The LPGA and PGA Tours are frantically trying to find a solution to resume play. Golf, at all levels especially the pros, is a business. Like all other businesses at this time, they are struggling to remain afloat and viable. Without question, the landscape of the future will not be the same as was just a few short months ago. Because of this, a new normal will emerge whether we want it to or not. The question for most golfers is what will golf look like at the grass roots level? How will this affect my ability to hit the links? These and many more are great questions that are very difficult to answer.
When golf finally returns at the amateur level (local golf courses), social distancing will be the key to keeping them open. If golfers do not respect that fact that at least for the 2020 golf season we have a six foot bubble around us, then there could be challenges. Not coming close to my fellow golfer is an easy thing needs to be continued. We are not out of the woods yet and COVID-19 is going to be around for quite some time. So if we do not follow the social distancing on and off the course, and the infection numbers start to rise, I can see the powers to be reversing their decision to open golf courses as a first step to #flattenthecurve again.
Whatever method your course has implemented to avoid touching the flag or removing your golf ball will be in place for most if not all of the 2020 season. Not touching these items will be important to help golfers do their share of stopping the spread of COVID-19. It does not seem like much, but it only takes one person who is infected to have an immediate impact on their surroundings.
Clubhouses, proshops and other facilities will operate in a limited capacity in 2020. This is not the best of solutions for the golf courses, but it is a business reality at this time. For the short term, they will be operating at a reduce capacity. I think the 19th hole will be closed for the 2020 season, but solutions will be found for players to have a libation after their round; but, it will take time. This restriction is not permanent, but could last for quite a bit.
When the golf courses open, at least initially, there will be no walk on playing. Everything will have to be booked and paid for prior to showing up. Additionally, hanging out at the course for an hour or two before and after your round will be greatly discouraged. The current coronavirus restrictions do not allow for gathers, so hanging around the course when not playing will be part of most of the 2020 golf season.
All of the above sounds like a whole bunch of doom and gloom. Some feel that we have over-reacted by closing golf courses because they feel that it is one of the few sports that can be played while following the COVID-19 restrictions to help #flattenthecurve. I disagree with those people, at least initially. The problem for decision makers is that they did not know what they were dealing with. As it turns out, the coronavirus is very contagious and it is easier for clamp down on the populace movements for the short-term than try and tighten the reins as things got worse (and they would have gotten worse). As much as we hate the situation, we will be dealing with this virus for some time and a new normal on the golf course is inevitable.
Ontario is on the cusp of opening its golf courses. To ensure they stay open we need to ensure that social distancing remains in place, we do not touch the flagstick, we arrive at our designated times to play, and don’t needlessly hang around after our round. This is the new normal and will likely be around for most if not all of the 2020 golf season. It is the minor restrictions we have to endure to be able to play the sport we love. Personally, I will do what I can and follow all the safety guidelines implemented by the great team at Osprey Links Golf Course. I do not know about you, but I want our keep playing golf for the entire season and this new normal can make it happen.
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!