RUNNING any event with the shadow of COVID overhead is nerve-wracking but Duntryleague Golf Club is pushing ahead with its signature tournament, the Mercedes Benz Duntryleague Classic.
Entering its 12th year, the tournament has been relatively unscathed by COVID-19 previously with the rescheduling of last year's event to March the only real hiccup.
But tournament director John Cook said that's not to say things won't change at the drop of a one iron this year considering the NSW government's penchant for changing the restrictions around COVID-19 with relatively short notice.
"It's a serious worry, yes," Mr Cook said.
"Outbreaks seem to be happening everywhere but I think that's the way the government chose to play the game so I guess we've got to play it with them."
Designed to showcase Orange's food and wine, the Mercedes Benz Duntryleague Classic begins with a cocktail party on Saturday night and finishes with a three-course dinner on Tuesday night.
Both events will be staged at the club but in the meantime, the visitors are encouraged to visit Orange's other eateries and wineries.
Mr Cook estimates its value to the Orange economy of about $500,000 with the majority of the field visitors from mainly Sydney, Victorian and Queensland, some who arrive a couple of days before.
"It's a significant thing for us," he said, adding the tournament's value to the club was around $100,000.
"While the golf is serious, the focus is on food and wine and having a good time and that's what brings people back," Mr Cook said.
"Yes we've got some good golfers there but it's mainly to experience what we have in Orange."
Mr Cook said to cater for the current one-patron by two-square metres rule, this year's field had been reduced from the usual 200 players to 160 with play hitting off at 7am on Sunday.
"We've done this year is capped our numbers, which in turn reduces the function numbers," he said.
"Some of the players have chosen not to attend the functions which is okay and we're also asking people to respect each other's space and to avoid the customary greetings between each other.
"We're also encouraging people to use outdoors wherever possible and to wear masks wherever possible."
Mr Cook said the presentation dinner will also have a different look.
"People won't be coming up to receive prizes, we'll distribute the prizes rather than them come up to the podium," he said.
"We're just trying to do things that will limit contact."
Mr Cook said there were a number of regulars who had missed out on the cut this year.
"Obviously they're disappointed but we've got to be realistic.
"If we can't have them in for the dinners and look after them for the dinners, [then there's not much point in asking them to come and play] and that reduces the effect of the tournament.
"Look, hopefully next year it will be fine again."
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