In a world where grocery shopping and Amazon Prime were once taken for granted, it’s nice to know golf has largely remained the same.
This past weekend, my boyfriend and I played nine holes at a small public course in New Hampshire. Since the Granite State was the last to reopen golf, I was expecting the course to be packed, especially with the beautiful weather (it snowed one week earlier). While there was a group on every hole, in no way did we feel overcrowded or unsafe.
We came prepared with masks and gloves because we knew safety guidelines were in place, but we didn’t know exactly what to expect. Fortunately, the only contact made was from passing our cash through the pro shop window and then we were off to the first tee.
Aside from waiting in our car until 15 minutes before our tee time and skipping a warm-up, golf felt the same as pre-pandemic days. It was better, honestly.
Pre-pandemic, golf rounds could sometimes turn into a test of patience. We all know the feeling of packed tee sheets and a slow round that takes up the entire afternoon. Now, with a longer break in between scheduled tee times and the fact that players are craving fresh air, I truly believe golfers have a new appreciation for the game.
When is the last time you passed on a cart to walk nine holes and enjoy the moment? The new safety guidelines have forced us to slow down our rounds and our lives, providing a much-needed escape from the stresses of our “new normal.” This season kindly reminds us of joys we encountered while first learning the game, when golf was a game to be played, not rushed.
Recreational golf has thrived throughout this difficult time, and it’s emerging from the pandemic more popular than ever. Curiosity about the new safety guidelines hooked me, and I’m glad we made that tee time and joined golf’s resurgence in New Hampshire. For me, “pandemic golf” means enjoying the game and staying present, rather than training for future professional events. And that’s what I’ve been looking for since I retired as a pro last year. What has “pandemic golf” meant to you?
(Kelly Okun is an employee of Buffalo Groupe, which owns and operates Golf News Hub.)