On the day the UK has announced their latest lockdown measures and while France is on day 8 of lockdown, I can’t help but daydream of the possibility of our golf course opening again. While the chances of a lockdown ending anytime soon seem to be dwindling day by day (some are predicting the lockdown could last for a few months more), I am here to argue that golf is one of the only sports MADE for self-isolation.
Forget soccer where you’re kicking each other’s shins until you fall down with flare as if you’ve been shot in your kneecaps.
Forget cricket where you’re all touching the same balls and bats and wickets while they back foot a badger in his fly slip until he’s sledging into your yorker (yes those are all real cricket terms, I assume used completely in the wrong context). Forget pretty much every sport that’s not played on an Xbox.
Golf is the ultimate individual isolation sport. Not only do you have all your own clubs, gloves, balls, tees and scorecards, all the mutual equipment like tee boxes and O.B. markers are touch-free, like decoration almost.
What about the rakes? Well, considering a percentage of people don’t even bother using these (you know who you are), there have also been arguments that bunkers these days are too perfect, too uniform – so much so that professionals actually AIM to miss in the bunkers because they’re so much more predictable than grass. So what’s the isolation solution? We should go back to the days when bunkers were a real penalty, and not a teed-up birdie opportunity (I mean, that’s how I look at them…ha!). Leave them un-raked and let the balls fall where they may.
And the pin? As of last year, this is also no longer a contamination problem. You’re allowed to leave it in even while you hole out. No need for touching whatsoever.
What if someone picks up the wrong ball? I think the unforgivable penalty of picking up someone else’s ball without checking it’s yours is more risky than ever! Maybe this will be the thing that finally encourages people all over the course to make sure they have the right ball. Who knows who’s coughed on that Pro V1 with three red dots on it…?
As for keeping a healthy distance from one another, golfers are more suited to judge this distance than anyone else out there, except maybe a carpenter. How far do we need to stay away from each other?
Two club lengths.
Two club lengths. Easy. Every golfer knows that distance. Stay “lateral relief” distance or more away! The average driver is around 43 inches long. That’s almost exactly one meter, or 3 feet. The recommended distance to keep from every other human on earth? Two meters, or about 6 feet, or two driver-lengths. Honestly, like it was MADE for golf…
Now, golf IS considered a social sport. However I’d argue that once you get rolling, it’s a one-woman/man show. How many times have you walked to the first tee, had a bit of banter, hugs, etc. but when the first ball is struck, the other 3 people in your group may as well not be there? Golf is about as social as…kayaking. You might wave to people on the shore. At a distance. Between rapids. But for the most part you’re on your own and a bit too busy keeping afloat to chat to someone else floating by in their kayak who’s also trying to stay afloat.
Even mentally, golf is already like being in self-isolation.
— You’re either playing well and everyone else is ignoring you as they wallow on their own in their own shite game. Or you’re the one wallowing in your own miserable game, facing the course alone with no one to rescue you but you, falling into a hopeless spiral of despair, hoping this miserable excuse for a game will end so you can go home and putt furiously into a coffee mug on your own for the next three days, swearing at no one as you hit the lip of the mug for the 100TH TIME IN A &%#$@ING ROW!!!
Isn’t golf great?
So come on, if we’re not touching each other, not sharing equipment, staying 2 golf clubs away from each other, hardly talking to each other, and doing our best to ignore each other, I think we can all agree that golf is the perfect sport to “enjoy” during self-isolation, because we’re already in isolation, we’re just outside hitting a ball while we’re doing it.