The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is sweeping the nation. Most states are taking preventative measures to limit social interaction by canceling events, shutting down bars and restaurants, having employees work remotely, and implementing social isolation. Most of us love golfing because it’s an oasis away from home, but with increasing concerns over the spread of the virus, many of us are wondering how golf fits into the coronavirus pandemic.
I don’t know about you, but I am going stir-crazy just sitting at home with nothing to do. Golf lovers want to be on the golf course practicing, especially since the Spring weather is here! Golf can help with relieving stress (and it’s a great workout), but is it safe to golf given what is happening?
Should You Play Golf?
Professional golf is officially on hold. The USGA announced that it has canceled its first two 2020 championships, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, originally scheduled for April 25-29, and the U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, originally scheduled for May 23-27. These championships will not be rescheduled in 2020. (BOO!)
Although the COVID-19 is stopping professional golf tournaments from carrying on, everyday golfers can still take on the course. Even though golf tournaments, classes, and events are being shut down, it should be OK to go golfing with a foursome or less – but there should be some extra precautions taken when out on the links.
How Do I Keep Myself Safe While Golfing During Coronavirus?
#1 – Walking
If you’re determined to get on the golf course, try walking instead of using the golf cart. Most golf clubs are now rigorously cleaning their equipment and clubhouse, but to be safe, you might want to walk. Touching a golf cart right now probably isn’t best.
# 2 – Bring Hand Sanitizer
This is a given, but it’s worth being reminded that hand sanitizer should be kept with you at all times! This includes while being on the golf course. I was able to snag some from Bath & Body Works before the malls closed down, but unfortunately, they are all sold out online! (Not too much of a surprise). I would suggest looking at Amazon if you need to order any. They offer quick shipping (especially with Prime), and they have a lot more inventory than other stores right now.
# 3 – Practice Social Distancing
Social distancing in golf won’t be too difficult to achieve since it’s not a close contact sport. Since many older folk will be staying home, as they are the most at risk, golf courses may be emptier than usual.
If you happen to get close to another golfer, do not shake hands with that person, and distance yourself by at least 6 feet.
#4 – Disinfect Your Golf Clubs
It’s more important now than ever to regularly wipe your clubs down with a disinfectant wipe. And you should probably hold off on letting anyone borrow your golf clubs for the time being.
How Can I Improve My Game If I’m Stuck Inside?
Not to fret. If you don’t feel comfortable, or you can’t go outside right now, you can easily practice your golf game indoors. Using BirdieBall, you can build your very own putting green that can be customized to various sizes, and more importantly different speeds! Most golfers resort to practicing on a carpet, which is not a completely terrible idea if you don’t have any other options, but it’s not the real thing. I think BirdieBall really hit the mark and made indoor golfing a “hole new ball game!”
There are also core workouts you can do from home that specifically help your golf swing. Focus on maintaining flexibility and core strength and by the time you’re back on the course, you’ll feel like you never left.
Are Golf Courses Staying Open?
As of right now, there are still many major golf resorts that are still open for business, but with extra safety measures in place.
The Crystal Springs Golf Resort in Hamburgh has taken the coronavirus and potential safety risks seriously. They put out a game-changing list of new rules that includes removing rakes from sand traps and ball washers along with urging golfers not to finish off close shots to avoid touching the inside of holes.
The resort has also installed “raised holes” that balls “easily bounce out of” to urge golfers not to use their hands.
Other courses that are open (as of now — things could change quickly):
Bandon Dunes – Open, but with additional safety measures in place, according to their website.
Pinehurst – Open, but there have been cancelations of non-golf related events in the village.
Streamsong – Streamsong is open. All Florida theme parks have closed, but for now, golf plays on at one of the premier golf destinations in the Sunshine state. Their website states:
We suggest not taking the flagsticks out, smoothing bunkers with feet to avoid handling rakes and giving putts to eliminate hands from retrieving putts from the cup. Group caddies are mandated in place of walking carrying caddies when players choose golf carts and players can be offered single-player carts to allow social distancing amongst players not associated with the group.
TPC Sawgrass – You can still play both the Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course. Just don’t expect it to be cheap.
While many courses are staying open, others are shutting their doors. Palm Beach Par 3 became the first South Florida facility to announce its closing because of the virus. It won’t be the last. Officials in Hollywood and Sarasota soon announced they will be closing their golf courses too. Pebble Beach is close to the Bay Area, which is experiencing some of the strictest lockdown measures in the country, and their resorts and most amenities have been suspended. They are taking reservations for arrivals after April 17th.
The best thing you can do right now is to stay informed on CDC guidelines and know how to protect yourself and others. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, no handshakes, etc. Beyond that, use common sense and play away!