As the Wuhan Coronavirus crisis accelerates, I find myself unexpectedly on a four week hiatus from my teaching job. While I should be celebrating the opportunity to play some previously unscheduled golf, I actually am quite distressed.
This particular time of year is my favorite on the school calendar. Seniors are excited about their upcoming graduations; juniors anticipate the SATS and college applications; underclassmen are looking forward to scheduling their classes for the upcoming year. Further, between midwinter, spring, and memorial day breaks, the spring semester normally is far less stressful than the fall.
Less stressful, that is, unless you introduce a global, life threatening plague.
From a golf perspective, at this time of year I am usually able to get in a quick nine on the way home from work. This time of year, nine is about all I can handle before my game falls apart. It is a good time to work my way back into golf shape.
Now, I find myself with four weeks of open time for golf.
I am not celebrating, however. While I feel hale and hearty, there are two in my household who are on the coronavirus watch list either for being lung- or immuno-compromised. I just can’t dismiss the warnings, no matter how jaundiced I am over previous end-of-the-world scenarios like SARS, H1N1 and Swine Flu.
Still, as Obama’s of Staff Rahm Emanuael said: Never let a good crisis to go waste.
In the spirit of that, I fully intend to play every day that weather allows. Aside from a brief interaction with the pro in the clubhouse, a round of golf requires little physical interaction. Since I am a walker, playing partners will be several feet away at a minimum. If we don’t take out the flag, we will never touch any common surfaces.
With the (hopefully) sunshine and fresh air, I can think of no more healthy place to be in a plague year than on the golf course.
Still, I worry that courses will find it prudent to close along with other public venues. The University of Michigan course has closed along with the rest of the University. The course I frequent most often is a muni, where the township government could decide to close all operations.
I remain hopeful that I will be able to play at a few of the dozens of courses in the area.
For what it’s worth, the title of this post, Golf In a Plague Year, is a reference to Journal of A Plague Year, a novel by Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) written in 1722. The story follows the protagonist’s experiences in 1665, the year of the Great Plague that struck the city of London. The novel likely is based on the experiences of his uncle, Henry Foe.
That plague killed 25% of London’s population in a period of seven months. I find it impossible to imagine the effect of such a thing on the current United States, which would result in 81 million deaths.