Golf In A Plague Year – March 23: Golf and Social Distancing
As people practice social distancing in the face of the Wuhan coronavirus, golf may be one of the few forms of recreation, exercise and relaxation out there that occurs in a more-or-less naturally social distancing mode. After all: how close do you need to get to your playing partners to enjoy a round of golf?
Still, there are additional precautions you can take. Here are a few that occur to me:
I think the best thing you can do is to walk. As a walker, I don’t come into contact with any gear other than my own. I’m not touching previously infected steering wheels, nor dragging my butt across a seat that may not have been properly disinfected. My clubs can be kept a safe distance from others’ clubs, and there’s no chance someone accidentally touches mine.
Pay for your round ahead of time online. If, like me, you are friendly with the clubhouse staff, all you’ll have to do is wave at them on the way to the first tee. No human interaction necessary.
No shaking hands, either before or after a round. No fist bumps. In fact, maintain a good distance at all times. Clap politely when you feel the urge to deliver a high five. Social distancing pre-empts celebration.
Leave the pins in. This is actually legal under USGA rules. The original intent was to speed up the game. Now, it’s a health issue.
Don’t pick up rakes. I know that it is bad karma to leave a bunker unraked. It is even worse karma these days to touch a rake.
If your course has not yet adopted raised cups or pool noodle plugs, don’t putt out. I’d even suggest placing a spare ball in another location on the green and putting to that. I’ve also had the idea that I could carry a small piece of pvc pipe that I could set on a likely spot in lieu of a hole.
Don’t touch your partner’s gear — including balls and markers. In the past, it generally been considered good form to pick up your partner’s ball or toss him his ball marker — especially if the partner is less abled. No more. No one touches anyone’s stuff.
No sharing. Sharing is for kindergarten in the pre plague era.
Don’t pay your debts in cash. Cash is dirty. There are plenty of apps for sending money to people from your phone.
And of course, the best thing social distancing you can do is to outdrive your partners by twenty yards, That keeps more than enough distance between you and possible infections.
And here I’ll repeat a public service announcement from yesterday: The University of Michigan Hospital — and likely the hospitals in your area are in need of supplies that people have been hoarding.