If you are in your 70s in this month of March 2020, you are probably suspected of being infected by the Corona Virus – which brings us, of course, to golf. Daily life for everyone in March is grinding to the halt we elders experience all the time. In many cases they want to forbid us to leave the house. Recreation is generally a no-no.
However, comma, your personal practice does not qualify as “recreation.” Golfing practice is not play; it is introspection, perhaps even meditation. An abandoned football field can be all you need to spend the time they are trying to take from us. Even if you have just a small patch of land to escape to, they cannot shut it down, like they can a real golf course. A lot of park space may be even more empty than on work days. Or a sandy beach can be all you need to perfect shots in your Short Game. (Make a circle in the sand and hit to land within it.) And you don’t have to be in a group. You don’t even need a friend. Your golf club is friend enough.
We have earned that time by ourselves, by mingling a lifetime with the maddening crowds. Now, if we are confined to the house as 70 year olds, we might die safely in our rockers, or see some dear old movies come round again. Those of us with eyesight may rediscover reading. However, it turns out to be a great time to rediscover – and replenish – your golfing skills. There are probably 1000 short, free golf videos that can improve your understanding of parts of your game, and you can even get golf instruction by sending online instructors videos of your swing. There is always living room — or hall way — practice in putting… just find about 10 feet of unobstructed carpet. Many golf instructors say you can improve your overall consistency and club speed by taking 100 swings a day (, in a back yard or alley where you won’t destroy your ceiling).
Or, if you are exceptionally lucky, you may find a golf course open to the public. It may be the ultimate compromise in social isolation. The very threat of flying golf balls automatically keeps everyone at a distance. There are broad, wide open fairways with sweet air circulating freely and filling your lungs and pulsating like the beating heart of God. Only your own golf balls and your own clubs to touch. Vitamin D from the sunshine – even it is a little chilly as it is in Seattle now. But if Seattle can allow its courses to be open, semi-quarantined as we are, then any place can allow golf.
Here’s what our local municipal course is doing: 1. Limiting lines in the golf shop so only one or two players are inside to pay ( – soon that should all be online). 2. Closing the snack shop/restaurant. 3. Closing the driving range because eventually balls touched by one person can carry disease to another. 4. Raising the cups in the holes on every green (photo above), so one doesn’t reach into a much used cup for the ball, or need to remove the flag stick. Because your ball just has to touch the raised cup, at any speed, this should help everyone’s score.
I would suspect that soon they will stop renting germy carts, so everyone will be walking as golf was in its healthy beginnings. As it is, every golfer seems very careful to touch only his or her gear and balls. As far as I can discover from Google, corona virus on shoes and the ground is not an issue since respiratory droplets dissipate in the ground. But that solitary finding was in the China Daily News, so I’ll try to find other scientific opinions.
It may be my last such walk for a while, but yesterday was a glorious day for Golf in the Time of Corona. Minus chunking a few dirt balls and watching a few long slices disappear into thick forests, our outing was as satisfying as the first day of Spring. In fact it was the first day of Spring. So, here’s hoping that that your expansive golfing refuge remains until the scourge passes, when everyone of every age can mingle and joke… and touch… again.
Copyright 2020 — David Hon