Professional golf made a return in mid-May in South Korea with the KLPGA Championship being the ﬁrst tournament to be played globally since the COVID-19 pandemic.
Overcoming a three-stroke deﬁcit, 22-year-old Korean Hyun Kyung Park claimed a one-stroke victory in just her second year as a professional, some 15 miles from Seoul.
The KLPGA Championship wasn’t just a win for Park, it also provided hope for all golfers in the Asia-Paciﬁc region that competitive golf can be played safely in light of the pandemic, once governments give the green light for sports to return in their nations.
Several safety precautions were introduced to ensure the health and safety of all those involved with the championship, some of which are highlighted below:
COVID-19 Response Task Force
The KLPGA created a task force focused on the championship’s COVID-19 response. The steering committee established key policies and procedures to ensure health and safety was the number one priority with an integrated response manual developed. To ensure each of the championship’s major stakeholder groups were considered the committee comprised representatives from broadcasting, sponsors, players, agencies, developed company, golf venue, ofﬁcial hospital, disinfection company, as well as external legal and media advisers.
A thorough screening process was implemented for everyone who entered the KLPGA Championship including players, media, tournament ofﬁcials and staff. Temperatures were taken upon entry each day and masks were mandatory throughout the entire venue but were optional for players during their rounds. A daily self-checklist was also required to check for symptoms and to trace paths of people once they left the venue.
An extensive cleaning procedure was undertaken at least twice daily of the entire championship venue, with clubhouse, media centre and players’ facility disinfected to the quality of a ﬁve-star resort. A signiﬁcant ﬁnancial investment was made into disinfectant measures which also included a specialised walk-through UV sterilising sanitiser at the entrance to the practice facilities. Thermal imaging cameras were also utilised to check the players’ temperatures. The addition of hand sanitiser ensured the facility remained controlled and sterilised.
Since the KLPGA Championship, three other KLPGA tournaments have been played – including the Kia Motors Korea Women’s Open from 18–21 June, won by Ryu So-yeon.