2020 COVID-19 MGA Championship Policies & Procedures

WHAT TO EXPECT AT A MGA EVENT IN 2020

The highest priority for the Mississippi Golf Association (MGA) is the health, safety and well-being of all players, spectators, MGA staff, MGA volunteers, as well as everyone at our host facilities that generously offer their golf course for our events.  The intent of the following policies and procedures are to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 by utilizing publicly available guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the MGA cannot guarantee a risk-free environment.  It is everyone’s responsibility to follow these guidelines and do your part to help make our events as safe as possible.  We thank you in advance for familiarizing yourself and following all policies and procedures the MGA has implemented.  Until further notice, the following policies and procedures will be in effect:

GENERAL INFORMATION:

  • We will be in regular contact with host facilities prior to and throughout each competition to discuss sanitizing practices for common touchpoints such as carts, practice balls, bathrooms, etc.  While we aim to be consistent across the entire schedule with policies and procedures, there may be certain instances where a host club’s policies take precedence.  Any modifications will be communicated to players through the event portal, e-mail and/or text message.
  • Before arriving on-site for a competition, if you feel sick or show any symptoms of COVID-19, or if within the last fourteen (14) days you have felt sick, shown any symptoms of COVID-19, been diagnosed with COVID-19 or been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, we request that you stay home and notify us before your starting time. Note: This year we are providing full refunds of entry fees regardless of reason until a player’s starting time (only for the first day of competition for multi-day events).
  • We ask that social (physical) distancing is always practiced by keeping a minimum of six (6) feet from others.  Players and caddies found violating social distancing practices may be subject to a Code of Conduct violation.
  • There are no restrictions on spectators attending competitions.  Spectators are advised to remain on cart paths and to maintain social distancing from players and other spectators.
  • Please ensure all contact information in Golf Genius is updated to receive text messages and e-mails about important event updates and weather delays. General competition announcements will be made prior to the practice round and each competitive round.  If you have previously unsubscribed from text message notifications, we ask you to re-subscribe once again so you do not miss any essential information.  Please contact the MGA staff with any contact information updates if you are unable to do so online.
  • Before arriving on-site, please be certain that you have signed and returned the MGA’s COVID-19 Participant Release and Waiver that will be sent to you electronically prior to the competition.  If you have not signed the waiver in advance, you will not be permitted to participate in the competition.
  • Player gifts, when applicable, will be safely packaged using PPE and sanitized by MGA staff at least 72 hours prior to arriving on-site for the competition. Registration times, when applicable, will be lengthened and MGA staff will have proper plans for safe distribution.  This may include, but is not limited to, eliminating registration at championships and the distribution of player gifts taking place at the scoring area at the end of your round.
  • Buffet lunches have been eliminated until further notice.  Food & Beverage offerings will vary from club to club and we will update Player Information pages on the event portal with all pertinent information.
  • Our Spectator Cart Policy will remain in effect. Spectators must present valid ADA certification at the time of the cart request on-site and it must be approved by the Executive Director and/or Tournament Director. Junior Events – spectator carts at MJGA events will be available on a first come first serve basis if the host club so chooses to allow them. Until further notice these carts will be only one rider per cart unless you are household family. All spectator carts at MJGA events are expected to remain on the paths at all times and follow strict social distancing and social gathering restrictions.

BEFORE YOUR STARTING TIME:

  • We request that players not arrive at the golf course MORE THAN 60 MINUTES prior to your starting time so that potential large gatherings of players at practice facilities can be avoided.
  • Practice range stations will be spaced accordingly to promote social distancing. Practice balls will be set out without bags or baskets and hole flags will be removed from practice putting greens.  Please note that it may be necessary for us to limit the amount of time, or number of persons allowed, to practice at a specific location (e.g., range, putting green, short game) in order to provide an opportunity for all players to have time to warm-up. 
  • A competition bulletin board/signage will be available so players may take a picture of all relevant documents including Modified Policies and Procedures, Notice to Players, Hole Location sheet, MGA Rules of Play, and current MGA cart policies.  Additionally, all of these documents will be available for download on the respective competition’s Golf Genius event portal when applicable.
  • Players are asked to refrain from the traditional handshake or hug prior to the round.
  • Please be aware of all signage on and around the golf course that communicates important safety and competition instructions.

DURING YOUR ROUND:

  • Our current player cart guidelines are subject to change for each respective event and to follow the current CDC and Government restrictions on social distancing. During Team Events players will be permitted to share carts at this time. Communication will be made by the MGA at a minimum of one week prior to the event on any specific tournament cart policies.
  • Caddies are permitted (except for the Junior Championship) and will be required to sign the MGA’s COVID-19 Participant Release and Waiver in advance of a competition in which they will serve as a caddie.  When motorized carts are used, caddies will be permitted to ride in a cart with their player at any time during the round.
  • During emergencies and course evacuations, players may abandon social distancing in an effort to safely seek shelter. An Evacuation Plan will be prepared for each competition and will be provided to players. Please note that once players have found shelter that the current social distancing and social gathering restrictions must be upheld. Players who have access are requested to find shelter in their vehicles.
  • Except for caddies and team events, the only time players may be in a cart with another person is during an evacuation for a dangerous situation. We will make every effort to have designated evacuation locations where players can socially distance. Information will be sent via text message in addition to verbal announcements prior to the suspension of play.
  • Shuttle carts will NOT be available at ANY MGA competitions.
  • Tees, pencils, permanent markers, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. will NOT be provided at the starting tee and players should come prepared.
  • Hole Locations and Notice to Players will be posted online to the Golf Genius event portal. A link to access these documents will be texted and e-mailed to the field.  These documents will still be available in paper form at the starting tee.
  • Digital scoring will be used for all MGA championships and no paper scorecards will be collected by the MGA until further notice. Players are encouraged to use the Golf Genius application (available on iOS and Android) for Live Scoring. One player in each group will be asked to input scores following each hole for the player in their group.  Instructions on how to download and use the app can be found here. Following your round, players will be asked to enter the designated scoring area while maintaining social distancing where an MGA staff member will verbally confirm each players/teams score. We ask that all players/teams remain in the scoring area until all scores have been verbally confirmed and the MGA staff member dismisses you.
  • Players are encouraged to leave the flagstick in the hole at all times.  However, prior to the start of the round, it is recommended one player or caddie in each group should be designated by the group to be responsible for holding, attending, removing and replacing the flagstick on each hole throughout the round if so needed.  Whomever touches a flagstick during a round, they are encouraged to use a glove, sanitizing wipes, or hand sanitizer before and after touching a flagstick. There will not be any items (e.g., PVC, foam, etc.) placed in the bottom of holes so golf balls will come to rest in the bottom of the hole. 
  • All bunker rakes will be removed from the golf course until further notice. Players will be asked to maintain bunkers to care for the course by use of foot or golf club. Any specific relief rules that the MGA designates will be communicated to the players in advance of the event as well as posted on the tournament website.
  • Bottled water/drinks may be available at limited locations on the golf course but will have a designated individual following proper PPE protocol there to hand the drinks out. Players at NO time are allowed to reach into coolers and retrieve their own drinks. Snacks and fruit will not be provided.
  • MGA staff and volunteers will wear face masks when engaging with players and unable to maintain social distancing.
  • Players should call or e-mail the Official in Charge (contact information can be found online) with any questions and should refrain from physically visiting Tournament Headquarters.  A phone number may be provided to players to call in the event rules assistance is needed.
     

AFTER YOUR ROUND IS COMPLETE:

  • Players are asked to refrain from the traditional handshake or hug following the round.
  • When your round is complete, please proceed immediately to the scoring area, keep strict social distancing when in the scoring area and follow the instructions of the scoring official as the scoring process will have modified procedures in effect that could include, but is not limited to video and/or audio verification processes.
  • Upon completion of the scoring process, players are encouraged to depart the golf course property (exceptions include potential playoff participants or event winners).
  • Practice facilities will NOT be available to players after your round.
  • Until further notice, traditional paper scoreboards have been eliminated to reduce areas of player and spectator congestion.  In most instances, digital versions of a scoreboard will also be eliminated, and players must rely on their personal devices and the Golf Genius mobile application for competition scoring.
  • Traditional trophy and awards ceremonies will have a different look and feel.  Paper gift certificates will not be distributed.  The golf shop will receive a prize distribution and players will be notified of their winnings.  Gift certificate amounts will be displayed with the final results on the Golf Genius event portal and mobile app.
  • A simplified version of a trophy presentation will take place with pictures and video of the winner only.  Players should not congregate at this time.  Added sanitization measures will take place to ensure the trophy is clean and safe for touching by the winner.  Take home trophies, when applicable, will remain as originally boxed and distributed to those winners or will be mailed to the player shortly thereafter.  

PLAYER RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • If within the last fourteen (14) days, you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, been in close contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, have had a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, you must stay home and notify the MGA to withdraw from an event.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, lips, and eyes.
  • Wash your hands frequently. If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitizer. The MGA currently has hand sanitizer ordered and will provide to players, when available, at MGA Championships. Players are highly encouraged to bring their own as well as gloves, disinfecting wipes, masks, etc.
  • Please familiarize yourself and follow publicly available best practices as published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and state / local governments.
  • PLEASE BE PATIENT.  Allow more time for things such as waiting your turn for use of practice facilities, starting and scoring procedures, awards distribution, etc.
  • Respect all direction and instruction provided by MGA staff, volunteers and/or the host club regarding safety measures in place.
  • Respect your fellow players and understand everyone also has their own personal comfort level regarding safety practices.  However, everyone must abide by the policies and procedures put in place by the MGA and the host club.  Failure to abide by such policies and procedures may result in disqualification due to a Code of Conduct violation and result in suspension from future competitions.