Necessity is the mother of invention, and the coronavirus pandemic continues to coax creativity out of golf course operators when it comes to finding ways to keep golf courses open and as safe as possible. One place that creativity is happening is at the cup, where flagsticks and cups themselves are seen as potential vectors for the virus. As soon as the pandemic started threatening courses with closure, superintendents sprung into action, raising, inverting and stuffing cups with things like sawed off pool noodles to make a holed ball easy to grab without golfers' fingers touching anything else.
At Cobblestone Golf Course, a popular municipal layout outside Atlanta, there is a new solution that might be the best yet. It's a little steampunk, but the slide-whistle-looking contraption, called the Golf Ball E-Z Lyft, enables any golfer to remove a ball from a cup by touching their putter to the hook and gently lifting upward. The convex cup inset lets the ball fall out without any skin-to-cup or skin-to-flagstick contact whatsoever. A set of 18 devices costs just under $500. Unsurprisingly, the course's tweet of a video showing how it works has gotten significant pickup by golf media in the last day or so.
Who knows how long these solutions will be necessary in order to keep golfers safe, and if they'll need to be augmented or adjusted in the face of some future threat. We can be sure of one thing, though: when things get weird, the creative go viral.