2 x 6 x Fore: Golf In the Age Of COVID-19

To the uninitiated, golf looks like a crazy game. Walking around a field for a few hours hitting a small ball into a small hole does sound a bit nonsensical, maybe more so in the age of COVID-19, the CoronaVirus.

Just a few days ago, on an early morning walk, I noticed two gentlemen (twosome) playing this ‘crazy’ game. It was damp and chilly, normal for early April in western New York. A light fog hung in the air as they trudged along between shots, with their bag full of ‘sticks’ (clubs) slung comfortably over their shoulders. They appeared nonplussed by the conditions on the course and the concerns in their community, going about their play, bonded by a common interest and obvious love of the game of golf

Unlike politics, golf is not a ‘blood sport’. On the contrary, it’s a gentle game, played by gentlemen and gentle ladies and even youngsters learning the art of being gentle.

For those who love it, it’s almost a perfect game: you against a course that has withstood the challenge of thousands of other golfers over time, yet still stands, or lays, scuffed and scarred, maybe, but rarely beaten.

A course with its plush green grasses (fairways & greens) cut to different heights atop an earth that bends left or right (doglegs), or steers straight ahead, with dips and rolls, and hazards placed precisely, or randomly, to catch the tiniest of unforced, self inflicted errors, diminishing further, in all likelihood, an already bruised ego.

It’s a game with strange words: birdies, bogies and, my two favorites, mulligans and gimmies. The courses, literally manicured fields, where the game is played, have some of the most recognizable and romantic names in sports: Augusta, St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Sawgrass and here in Rochester, New York, the classic Oak Hill.

Champion golfers compete for fabulous prize money almost on a weekly basis. They ply their trade in front of legions of spectators who march behind their heroes, cheering after well struck shots while practicing monk like muteness during swings. A personal oath of silence is golden on a golf course, yet a tiger-like roar can be heard across fairways when a star makes a great shot.

Amateur golfers of all skill levels display a level of enthusiasm unparalleled in other sports. A devotee finds something in the game as reason to return to play, again and again, even during a pandemic, apparently.

Case in point, the aforementioned twosome. Nothing was going to stop their game, today. Not the morning chill and dampness, not even the CoronaVirus.

However, to be fair, the two were keeping the proper social distancing of 6 feet minimum, and if they did have to approach other golfers, shouting a warning to beware would suffice…

FOOORRRE!”

Steve (srbottch.com)

To golfers everywhere, come Hell or high water.

Published by

srbottch

Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

19 thoughts on “2 x 6 x Fore: Golf In the Age Of COVID-19”

  1. I’m not that much of a golfer, Steve, but it is one of the things I enjoy doing with my son when he’s in town. It is the act of spending time with someone I love rather than the game of golf, which I frankly stink at. Yet what is better than grabbing a cold one after spending a few hours with him?

    Golfers are an odd breed; they will play in nearly any condition, early morning, and even as the sun is getting. It can be tranquil and gentle as you describe, but I have also seen some exhibiting bad tempers after a lousy shot.

    The courses in our area (northern California) are all closed right now due to the virus, so I’m a bit surprised to hear that other places are still open. I do remember reading an article a couple of weeks ago stating that golfers were being discouraged from grabbing the flagstick. It went on to say anything near the hole should be counted as a made shot. (a gimme)

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    1. I agree, Pete, the camaraderie around golf is a wonderful by-product, especially around the ‘19th hole’. Yes, the courses are closed here, as well, but my walking path was along a very private club, Oak Hill CC, an occasional site of major tournaments. Of course, I was in the ‘other side of the fence’. I noticed other twosomes and even a single. By the way, golf is a great game but I haven’t played it for several years. Still enjoy watching it.Thank for the wonderful comment, Pete.

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  2. A nice description, Steve. I played golf once – once only, that is. I wasn’t doing too well. I aimed at a tee shot. Straight ahead in the middle distance was a group of four on a green. “What about them”, I asked my companion. “Oh, don’t worry”, said Mike. “They are safe enough”. Next minute he was yelling “FOOORRRE!” as the ball whistled through their midst. A shot I never repeated.

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    1. Only once? And you still turned out to be a gentleman? Wonderful. When I was learning the game, I hit my ball into a group in the green ahead of me. Within a few seconds, the ball landed back at my feet. Lesson learned😂

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  3. When I think of golf two stories come to mind, Steve.

    I remember when our doctor asked my husband what exercise he was getting and he replied he was playing golf. Our doctor, an old West Virginia country doctor, replied “I’m almost 70 and fat and I can play golf. That’s not exercise.”

    Then, when I was in high school, my mother was going to teach me how to swing and follow through. I was an attentive student and got too close and she followed through right upside my head! I fell to the ground, ok, but definitely shaken. I looked at my mother and told her I did not realize golf was a full contact sport. That was my last foray into golfing.

    Thanks for the memories. Stay well in these crazy times.

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  4. An excellent commentary on the game, Steve. I can imagine in your neck of the woods the golfers are all anxious to get out there. Here, all our courses are closed to golf so the natives will definitely get restless.

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  5. I think this is a good idea, Steve. It makes the social distancing a bit more palatable and sustainable. We are not allowed out at all, even to the park, and it is horrible. People are getting very irritated and aggressive. I hope you are well.

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    1. Thank you, Robbie. The secret in this instance is that they were on a private country club which makes it a bit different. Public clubs are closed. It’s a beautiful golf course but very expensive to join and sustain a membership. I was on the other side of the fence 😎. We’re doing fine so far. Just bored. How are you and you area? And thanks for commenting.

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  6. Thanks for sharing, Steve. Yes, just turned 66 last month, and still working!
    I am still playing at my club but the rules and the feel have changed considerably. It’s one cart per player, we never touch the flagstick, all the ball washers and water canteens have been removed.
    Obviously, with all of the precautions, we still understand that there is a threat of getting the virus. But there’s something about this game that keeps us coming back. Although, I guess if I lived in NY I probably would rethink this.
    Take care and be safe my friend.

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    1. Thanks for the note, Jan. Glad to hear that you’re still working. It keeps us young and sharp, esp if you’re a school crossing guard. Of course, that’s shutdown so I’m idle, staying at home while others do our grocery shopping. Strange times. At least you can still get on the course. That’s a relief. I’m still doing a little sales, helping a former associate who is a rep. Do your company get involved with stampings, need a good source, one located in the South, as well? Let me know. Hope you had a great birthday. Jan. Keep in touch.

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  7. We are fine, Steve, thanks for asking. I understand what you are saying. The rules are always different for well heeled people. I am working, writing, baking and now have a YouTube channel for bored children so I am not bored. I am very busy. I do have an overarching anxiety about the future and friends and family but try to keep in under wraps so as not to worry my boys. Glad you are well.

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    1. There’s an old adage that says not to worry about the things we can’t control. But it’s hard, isn’t it. I was never a worrier but this virus scares me a little because I’m older and have a weak immune system. My wife has RA so her immune system isn’t in top shape, either. So, we’re laying low and are fortunate for live in a neighborhood of caring people who have volunteered their shopping services to others in need. Hence, neighbors shop or I use an online shopping service. Everything is closed or limited except for vital services. My wife’s broken wrist is healing slowly, very slowly. Thank goodness the stock market has stopped bleeding and made a bit of a comeback. You just keep busy and before you know it, we’ll be back to normal, or a reasonable facsimile,thereof. And thank you, Robbie, for reading my simple stories and commenting. That really makes me feel great. All my best and stay well.

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  8. My pleasure, Steve. I enjoy your stories. I used to listen to Terence’s grandfather’s stories about the war before he passed. There is lot to be learned from people who have experienced more of life and can shed a different level of understanding on matters. I remember about your wife’s broken wrist and I hope it is healing well. I am glad there are people in your community who are helping, it is wonderful how so many people step up when it is needed. It gives me a lot of hope. Have a good Easter.

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    1. Interestingly, this was a very private course (I was on the non private side of the fence) and the open/closed rules are most likely different. But they were social distancing. And, yes, an empty golf course is a generally very pleasant on the eyes and psyche (did I spell that correctly?)

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  9. A pleasure to read this post, Steve! Apologies for not keeping up recently. I still haven’t fully adjusted to the new demands of school and distance learning. It’s been far more than we teachers realized. We’re working to keep that connection with children in many different ways. So, I’m behind with my blog reading. I hope you are well.

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    1. I know you’ve been busy, I’ve been reading you. Keep up the great work and don’t worry about reading me. But, oh, By the way, the two stories just before the one you just read are interesting, especially the one two before. Oh, hell, you’ll recognize it once you scroll back a bit. 😉Take care and stay well.

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