As with almost any post written in the spring of 2020, yes, this is also dealing with the coronavirus, aka COVID-19, aka “the viruses that made us all into crazy cat ladies.” We’ve all been cooped up at home for what must be 23 or 24 years by now (Editors Note: It has been six and a half weeks) and we are all bursting at the seams to get back out there on the course. Outside. In fresh air, playing the game we love, with friends and/or family.
Some states have had golf open throughout, and for that let me add that I’m jealous, though certainly I could go live in Arkansas if I wanted to, and I do not. And in some places – probably a lot of them – even when they have been closed, some people have flat out refused to comply. Which, you know, is kind of a dick move.
But for the rest of us who haven’t been able to step on a golf course in going on two months, we are seeing the future of some “easing” of restrictions which in some cases includes golf. Indeed, here in the Bay Area these restrictions are being loosened on May 4 (I shall pause while you make a #MayTheFourthBeWithYou joke…well done), and that includes – thankfully – playing golf. The activities that are now okay are those that occur largely outdoors and don’t involve interaction with strangers/non-family members.
And this makes all the sense in the world. If you play golf (and honestly, once again, if you don’t … why are you here? We’re happy for it, but what’s going on?), you know that the tee boxes and greens are the only places where you have to consciously keep some distance, and unless you are sharing a cart, that’s about it. So, it’s not MUCH different than having a large area available for walking around in. Right?
Here’s an important caveat — golf has a reputation of being full of jerks. That’s not fair but people like Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia don’t help that image, and it feels like a playground for entitled rich white guys to close their gates on “the poors” and be abominable within their own private clubs.
And hell, I’m not going to argue that’s not true. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We are talking about not being a jerk when you do get to play your reopened public course.
No, I don’t care if you show up looking like this:
What I DO care about is that you behave responsibly. Here then, are some basic pieces of advice where I will be talking down to you as if you were a child. Because, quite frankly, all evidence suggests our society needs tone told how to do just that.
- Walking OR taking a cart by yourself. If the latter, ensure the course thoroughly cleans the cart before letting anyone else use it. But honestly, if you’re like me, you’ve been making the case that you want to golf because it’s exercise and outdoors! So, we should probably all walk if the course isn’t too poorly designed for that.
- No rakes in bunkers. Clean up your footprints with your foot! You know that you’ve done this sometimes anyway.
- Keep your distance. It’s easy, and safe. I honestly don’t try to be super close to anyone on the golf course anyway, but the tee boxes and greens are the areas where you need to think about this. Don’t sit together on a bench waiting to hit. Don’t share a cart and break the rules. Six feet is a minimum. Ten feet is better. If the course asks you to play wearing a mask, DO IT.
- Bring your own food and drink. There might be a cart girl on the course, but if you want to truly be responsible, that just adds risk. Get those PB&J’s with the crusts cut off like you know you want.
- Don’t gather on the putting green or the first tee. We’re sure you miss your buddies. We miss them, too. (Well, not YOUR buddies per se. Those guys are shady, and you know it.) But if you have to start your round without that warmup that never helps anyway, I think you’ll be okay.
- Don’t – and we can’t stress this enough – gather in the parking lot to have beers after the round. Ask yourself WHY you’re doing this – it’s because the bar is closed inside. Why is it closed? Because it’s dangerous to have a bunch of folks too close to each other. Don’t be a choad. Also, chugging beers before jumping into your respective cars isn’t the smartest call overall.
- CHILL THE HELL OUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA This is one that I need to emphasize — a lot of your friends don’t play golf, and the hobbies and sports they enjoy are NOT allowed. There’s no basketball, going to the gym or other such activities. You know your buddies wife who rolls her eyes every time you talk about golf, or want to turn on a tournament instead of listening to the discussion at book club? If you start posting a ton of photos on Facebook of you playing golf, just … keep it chill. We don’t need to cause family strife. It won’t help anyone.
When the shelter-in-place first was announced, golf courses and parks around the Bay Area (where I live) remained open. What happened? People just bombarded these places, at much higher rates than normal. It’s like we as a culture are just reflexively awful, selfish weirdos — it’s been observed that during this SIP, people see groups of six and seven playing together, where that NEVER happens under normal circumstances.
These guys at Roosevelt Park in Los Angeles? BAD! Bad boys! STOP THIS!
Once again, I feel the need to point out what every golfer knows in his or her heart — people who DON’T play golf? They have a very, very poor view of our sport. There’s a subreddit called r/nongolfers which is titled “Golfers are literally Hitler.” While a lot of that message board is tongue-in-cheek, there are plenty of folks who think golf is THE WORST. They think, with some reason, that it’s full of selfish, rich people who don’t care about anyone but those in their club. This even crosses political party lines – look back at GWB, Obama and Trump – they all get a lot of flak for “how much” golf they play(ed). For the latter, he’s also tied to the golf industry which for well over half of the country isn’t a great look for the sport. Collectively, we all need to overcome this.
But regardless of how it happened, courses are reopening. HUZZAH! But, this is not “going back to normal” and we can’t pretend it is. If folks continue to just flaunt breaking rules, we’ll be back to them all being closed REAL soon. And then I’m going to have to go protest at YOUR house if you are the one who screwed this up for me.
Plus, think of the benefits!
It’s EASIER to get a hole-in-one with raised cups! And it apparently counts from a USGA perspective. (Whether it counts in your heart is another question entirely.)
If you get a hole-in-one, you won’t have to buy drinks for a bunch of strangers in a crowded clubhouse!
It’s far less likely you’ll hear someone say something insanely creepy to a cart girl! (Also? Stop this. They’re not strippers – who you should ALSO not be creepy and rude to. Act like an adult. OK, I’m stepping off my soapbox.)
You’ll probably be walking, which (even if I find reasons not to do it a lot) is much better for you and honestly is closer to the spirit of the game. Get that exercise we all cite as a reason for opening the courses.
Again, we are all begging for golf courses to be opened, and in some places that’s already happening. I’m sure you want to play with your buddies and get back to “normal” — but just remember, if and when they have to close the courses up again because YOU fucked it up, you have to own this. Please don’t be a choad. The rest of us don’t deserve it.