Forbes reports, “Golf is one of the few sports that can be played safely during the coronavirus pandemic.” There have been stories published about people catching the virus on a golf course, but these are rare. Golfers just need to follow a few rules to ensure golf remains near the top of the list of safe activities during a pandemic.
Golf is notorious for having rules that never change. With the spread of Covid-19, the United States Golf Association (USGA) made a few rule adjustments to make the sport more resistant to the coronavirus.
“In particular, relating to modifying the hole and not requiring the player to ‘hole out’ as required under the Rules of Golf. These are founded in a desire to minimize the possibility of exposing golfers to coronavirus and have included leaving the hole liner raised above the putting surface or placing various objects into the hole so the ball can be more easily removed.”
I think both of these changes should be permanent. I have a bad back, and I can’t make a four-foot putt to save my life. Both my back and my handicap have improved over the past several months.
Golf During Covid-19
Some golf courses closed during the spring, the height of golf season, but most have reopened now that the nation is in a reopening phase. Golf has been a source of exercise and stress-relief during a time that saw many confined to their homes and a dramatic rise in people working from home.
According to the National Golf Foundation (NFG), many golf courses have experienced an increase in 9-hole rounds. With a work-from-home model in place, more time is available to golf. Not during the workday, but in the afternoon and early evening. Golfers no longer need to drive home, change their clothes, and grab their clubs. When finished with work, they simply drive to the course and play 9-holes before losing daylight. Referred to as “short loops,” the number of 9-hole golf rounds has increased by more than 15%. Regular golfers have reported that one-third of their rounds have been short loops. The number rises to one-half when asking an occasional or weekend golfer.
With many businesses experiencing a drop in or even a total loss of customers, in June, golf courses have seen an average increase of 13.9% in rounds of golf played. Many people are trying golf for the first time. More young golfers have taken an interest in the sport, mainly due to the limited choice of safe sports available.
To keep golf safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, we all need to do our part. Use social distancing when golfing. Golfers tend to gather on the green, during the round, and in the parking lot to discuss their excellent shot or their utter disappointment in their play and their plan to quit the sport – until next weekend.
Set aside tradition. No handshake at the end of the round. Be liberal with gimmes. Don’t pick up clubs of other players. Golf is a gentleman’s game, and traditions are a big part of the sport. The coronavirus has changed the way we live our lives. It has also changed a few strong traditions in golf.
During this time of distancing ourselves from others, avoiding crowds, and wearing facemasks, it is refreshing to step outside and walk the golf course. Golf is a way to reconnect with your friends, breath in some fresh air, and remove yourself from the stress and worry all around us. Covid-19 is a serious health concern, and we all need to be cautious when we are around others.
It’s nice to know you have a safe place to go to renew your energy and clear your mind during this life-changing global crisis. Take off your mask and grab your driver. You’re up!