Superintendents are the too-often-unsung heroes of the golf world. But their labors are, at the most basic level, what enable us to play golf on a daily basis. Even, it turns out, in the midst of a creeping global pandemic. As major institutions of authority and governments from the federal down to the local level make difficult decisions about what aspects of daily life - education, commerce, industry and other services - must be put on hold in order to "flatten the curve" of coronavirus contractions, hospital stays and deaths, golf is naturally one of the things under threat. Yes, it offers plenty of space for "social distancing," but as official statements continue to slim down the number of people allowed to congregate together outside of homes, several golf facilities have closed for the foreseeable future.
Others are trying to stave off closure as long as possible, and as usual, superintendents are central to the solution. At Blue Ridge Shadows in Virginia, what appears to be a slice of foam pool noodle has been placed at the bottom of the cups to elevate holed balls, making them easier to pluck out. At Tellico Village in Tennessee, cups have been placed upside down in the holes to similar effect. PVC piping is superintendent Bill Irving's solution at Wolf Creek Golf Club in Kansas.
In an effort to keep our customers safe but also provide a recreational outlet we have raised all the cups 1” above the surface @RichterParkGC Putt till you hit the cup and then pick up ball and move on, no need to touch the flagstick. @MayorMark pic.twitter.com/L7xGNhaUhi— Robert Dorsch (@RichterSupt) March 17, 2020
Other supers, including Rob Dorsch of Richter Park Golf Course in Danbury, Conn., are elevating cups above the surface of the ground, turning holes into bumper targets. This will keep hands (and germs) off flagsticks. Golfers: keep playing and putting as usual, but if your ball strikes the protrusion and remains within a clublength of it, the ball is considered holed. The only question is, do holes-in-one made under these conditions count?