Action Amid Uncertainty
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the brass at Indian Wells Golf Resort didn’t react with a vanquished dismay of face in hands.
Instead, they put masks on those faces — by the tens of thousands.
From the close of March through early May, amid the temporary closure of its 36 holes, the popular resort paired with the volunteer outfit Coachella Valley Mask Makers (CVMM), to create a supply chain of mask kits for those in need.
“There was a huge mask shortage for the frontline workers,” said Michael Tebbetts, the director of sales and marketing at Indian Wells Golf Resort (IWGR). “And this network, the Coachella Valley Mask Makers, started reaching out to different places. Our general manager, Steve Rosen, moved ahead with them right away. We wanted to perform, to contribute some sort of act to help these folks putting their lives at risk.”
CVMM sent the resort raw supplies to create the kits, including industrial supply sterile rag dispenser boxes and rubber bands; IWGR then cut their own CAT5 wire from the property’s electrical supply to add support structure to the no-sew masks.
“They sent us the supplies, and we started making kits,” Tebbetts said. “And we then sent the kits out to all these different groups of people and clubs and courses around the valley and they’d assemble the kits to make the masks whole.”
According to Tebbetts, the kits were sent to nine other golf clubs across the desert, including PGA WEST, Monterey CC and Mission Hills CC. Volunteers at these clubs would then assemble the kit materials into finished masks.
“They’d deliver the finished masks back to us,” Tebbetts continued, “and the hospitals would send people to our clubhouse to pick them up, and then take them back to Eisenhower Medical Center and JFK Memorial Hospital, where they’d sterilize them.”
During Riverside County’s mandated closure of its Players and Celebrity Courses from mid-March until late April, IWGR kept its on-site VUE Grille and Bar services running. Despite having to furlough 85 percent of total staff during the temporary shutdown, the resort refrained from idle hands on deck. For the mask-making efforts, about 10 employees, during regular shift hours, participated in creating the kits.
“We had people in our lobby, doing this together, 10 to 12 hours a day, cutting the CAT5 wire (to support the rubber bands), counting the rubber bands, separating piles, coordinating pick up and drop-offs, putting it all together in bags,” Tebbetts detailed. “And we were running just to-go from our restaurant menu, and also grocery items; so much of the kit-making was our food and beverage staff. George Edwards, our engineer, and a lot of his staff also spent a lot of time putting them together as well.”
IT WAS GOOD TO BE A PART OF SOMETHING THAT HELPED FOLKS WHO WERE DOING SUCH IMPORTANT WORK.
All told, the kit creation and assembly chain created 80,000 masks for frontline medical workers and patients in need. The process ended when the respective hospitals received a steady stock of personal protective equipment from their regular supply chains.
During the spring, the resort also conducted two on-site blood drives with the local LifeStream blood bank, with each drive seeing nearly 40 participants. Working with enhanced safety measures, IWGR set up contactless and distance methods as much as possible, with vehicles driving to the backs of clubhouses.
“They tell us that, for every blood donation received, you can potentially save the lives of three people,” Tebbetts said.
“It was good to be a part of something that helped folks who were doing such important work,” Tebbetts said. “When the virus first hit, one of the natural things to do is communicate and network with people in the shared situation. And instead of waiting to hear what direction we’re supposed to take, it becomes about, ‘What can we do?’”
Looking ahead, Tebbetts knows the fall season presents further uncertainties. And yet, as evidenced by its prodigious mask efforts, the club, like much of the desert golf scene, isn’t one to hide behind a challenge.
“When the desert fills back up, there will be a new set of circumstances and, of course, we don’t yet know where that will lead us,” Tebbetts said. “People will eventually be back here from all parts of the country and, when they’re out here, they want to be out and they want to have a good time. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.”