Punch Shots: What are you thankful for in 2020?

Our editorial staff shares the positives from a tough year dealing with a pandemic.
Golf has been a beacon of hope for many players during the pandemic. In this shot, a golfer tees off at Crosland Heath Golf Club in England.

It might be hard for you - or anyone - to feel thankful after all that 2020 has thrown at us.

A pandemic. Politics. Civil unrest. Economic uncertainty. But it's always good to use Thanksgiving weekend to reset your priorities. Look at the good in your life. Don't focus on the bad. We've only got one shot on this earth: Why make it miserable?

We at Golf Advisor have plenty to be thankful for. We hope you do to. Let us know what you are thankful for in the comments below.

A rekindled appreciation for buddy's golf

For the past decade, I've been living a movie: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". It was glamorous at times, but it was also took a toll on my mind, body and soul. I missed plenty of family milestones, and no matter how great the destination, home is where the heart is.

That's what made this year special. I was home ... a lot. So was my wife, who has been working from home since March. And so was my daughter when her high school went online-only. For the first time in two decades, golf wasn't work. It was my escape ... out of the house away from the pandemic.

I rediscovered the joys of buddy golf. I served as a mentor to a friend who had never played before. I gave him an old set from my garage attic and loaned a second backup set to another friend. Suddenly thanks to the pandemic golf boom, I had a six-some of people who wanted to play at our local muni all the time. It was the most fun I've had playing golf in a long time. I think that joy translated to my scores, as my handicap index dipped to an all-time low.

The whole 2020 golf experience taught me a valuable lesson I should have already known: It's not where you play or how you play, it's who you play with that makes this game so great. - Jason Scott Deegan

3 Min Read
December 3, 2019
Jason Scott Deegan explains the approach he's taken to teach a beginner the game of golf.

An illuminating return to competitive golf

On the professional front, 2020's biggest bummer has been a near-complete lack of travel for me. I never realized how truly long a Florida summer is until this year, because ever since I moved here six years ago, I have been able to break up the searing heat and withering humidity at least a couple times per season with a trip to somewhere cooler and drier, be it the Pacific Northwest, Michigan or an annual week-long trip back to Connecticut. None of that was possible this year.

Grounded for so long, I decided to ramp up a tournament golf schedule that had previously come in fits and starts. Having played in college, I have always loved competing, be it in a state amateur or a modest money game among a foursome. I have invested a great deal of time in my life into learning how to navigate a course in as few strokes as I can, and I consider it a skill worth maintaining as long as possible. I commend organizations like the Palm Beach County Golf Association for finding a way to hold tournaments safely amid the pandemic.

Tournament golf took on some extra meaning for me this year. In the past, I tended to be a little excessively intense on the golf course and a bit of a loner, so I left the social aspect of golf mostly to non-competitive settings. This year, though, without the opportunity to expand my world through travel, I was able to expand it a bit through the tournament circuit. Playing a handful of events over a relatively short interval meant I ran into and got to know a group of fellow tournament players. It made me feel part of the community more than I had before, something that has been valuable in a year that has otherwise felt alien and alienating. - Tim Gavrich

Thankful for the health of golfers and golf itself

I may be stating the obvious, but in 2020 I'm particularly thankful for health. For myself, for my community and for the game of golf.

Beginning that surreal week in March when the NCAA and NBA abruptly shut down, followed by The Players Championship, health took center stage and hasn't really left.

And yet the health of the game of golf is enjoying a remarkable moment as an approved socially distant activity. Rounds have soared pretty much everywhere. I got into the golf business in the mid-2000s, right around the time we realized our country was terribly oversupplied with courses. No longer, at least not this year. If you want to book a decent Friday-Sunday tee time, you better be online or working the phones the morning they are available or you'll be shut out.

Avid golfers are finding time to play more while casual or new golfers are kicking the tires on the sport while their other leisure pursuits are closed. Every time I drive by my neighborhood muni lately, it's full with all walks of life - and they're all walking! (I'm told revenue was up 200% YoY in October there). Walking has made a comeback in 2020 for its social distanced nature. Even push carts were a hot commodity this year.

Frankly, the golf course has been one of the few ways I've been able to catch up with friends in 2020 as the vast majority of us have kept our homes off-limits to most visitors. The course has also been a sanctuary from all our respective news feeds, which haven't had a quiet moment in 2020.

The vast, open acreage required to play golf - at times demonized by non-golfers for excessive land use - has become an example as to why metro green space is so critical. Golf's image needn't be about elite private clubs or gambling or beverage carts. At its core, it's just about a therapeutic stroll on grass in sunshine. - Brandon Tucker

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I've met many new people this year, and made new golfing buddies, and a few new friends. I love the "fellow competitor" aspect of golf, as opposed to "opponent." Wish we could transfer that to politics

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Punch Shots: What are you thankful for in 2020?