I knew that sharing my column about the positive changes of golf during the pandemic wouldn't be popular with everyone.
Golf is such a personal game. What's good for one player, isn't always so for another. My perspective as a middling handicap who likes to play for fun is often very different than that of my colleague Tim Gavrich, a plus-handicap who loves to compete.
I touched on many controversial points that get golfers riled up: riding versus walking, leaving pins in, rakes out of play and pace of play. I'm guessing the majority of golfers can't wait until flagsticks can be pulled and bunker rakes return. I think they're just distractions that slow down golfers who don't know how to handle them properly. Golfers are so worried about etiquette - Who's away? Should I pull the pin or leave it in? Should I rake while my playing partner is hitting? - that they often cause pace-of-play delays.
With the game surging in popularity, your comments about what's working and what isn't are important. Operators and course owners would be wise to pay attention.
We've pulled a handful of comments from readers to give you a sense of what your fellow players are thinking about golf during the COVID-19 era. In case you didn't see the original story, here it is:
Pace of play
Story: "Without messing around with the flagstick and raking bunkers, groups are moving at a consistent pace. Even with the supposed influx of new players and juniors, I'm not seeing the massive slowdowns during rounds."
Reader Ken: "You are so right. My partners and I are in disbelief at how fast we are playing. Like you said you just show up and play."
Reader Barry: "1 per cart is great and to me, that speeds up the game more than anything else."
Reader Rich S: "Since I teach and our school closed in March I have gone on a golf tear. I have played 67 rounds on 67 different courses in 16 states. The biggest thing I noticed is that courses are packed everyday. This leads to the issue of slow play which is a killer."
Story: "I also love that the bunker rakes have been ditched, too. I hope they never come back."
Reader Gary UK: I’m dreading the return to rakes and play as you find (the ball) though, the 6” place rule means no plugged ball or iffy lies. Never had so many sand saves!
Reader Roman: "Great article. I agree, let's not go back. Flagstick in, rakes out, walk if you can, remove ballwashers, trashcans, cleat cleaners...the simpler the better."
Reader chiller1: "Pace of play being a key to enjoying and keeping some newbies interested, the flagstick and rake policies must become permanent. I still see some who insist on a pulled pin. Raking traps wasted lots of time. Jason's suggestion for preferred lies / free drops are spot on for most all types of play."
An oasis of tranquility and calm in the midst of ridiculous hysteria. But I would dearly love to take a flag out!— Christian Sarginson (@spiros115) September 5, 2020
Story: "I hope the "flagstick in" movement is here to stay. You don't have to worry about stepping in anybody's line to tend the stick. You don't have to worry about leaving it in or taking it out, depending on the length of the putt. It's a non-factor."
Reader Don: "As disruptive as Covid has been to sports, it actually improved amateur golf. No rakes, no pins and faster play. How nice."
Reader Michael: "Absolutely loving no rakes for the bunkers and leaving in the pin. Please never change those back!"
Reader Peter: "I disagree with most of this article. The "stick in" rule causes the ball to pop out on many occasions if like me you putt to hit the back of the hole. Bunkers not being raked causes unfair lies especially in competitions."
Book early...or else
Story: "In fact, I feel like the new surge has forced me to be more proactive with my schedule. If I want to play once a week, I need to book it. It puts something on my calendar to look forward to during these days of gloom-and-doom news broadcast nightly on the national networks."
Reader Alex Chavez: Im having a good time. It's just hard to get my buds to understand u cant wait till last minute to book."
Reader Dante: "I've played weekly for the past decade and I don't really see a benefit of Covid at all. It has become strangely more popular and booking tee times has become much more difficult. The dismissal of the single waiting list, and closures of putting greens are the worst of the new policies. The best thing about the past events is the less traffic and travel times to courses and around town. I can appreciate the author trying to shine a positive light on what were all experiencing but the sooner we can get trough this the better."
Golf as an escape
Story: "For millions, golf is serving as a brief escape from all the nasty election-year politics, civil unrest and protests in cities across the country, pandemic safety debates and the economic uncertainty that dominate daily life."
Reader Rick: "Overall I like the changes better than before. I do miss lunch at the clubhouse after a round but support the closures due to the risk of indoor spaces during a pandemic. Without golf I would be almost entirely confined to my home and would likely be stir crazy long before now."
Reader Vicky: "The author makes some good points about COVID golf, but for me the most significant benefit has been its contribution to mental health. Even during those dark days of April, when only grocery stores were open, a round of golf (course were never closed in my state) got me outdoors, and away from the distressing news if only for a couple of hours."
If you have any more thoughts to share about golf during the pandemic, feel free to share them in the comments below.