The best ways golfers can pass the time at home

Those who can't play golf during the coronavirus pandemic can still stay emotionally connected to the game.
Cleaning your golf bag is a great way to enjoy this golf "off-season" many of us are experiencing.

If you're doing sheltering in place right, then you've got a lot of time at home on your hands. As of April 6, a dozen states in the U.S. do not permit golf to be played during their government mandates, and just under 40% of U.S. golf courses are closed due to the virus.

There's only so many Netflix and retro movies and sporting events on TV you can stomach while cooped up. And there's only so much yard work and indoor home improvement projects you can handle before you go insane. Thinking about golf - even when you can't play it - just might be what the mental health doctor ordered.

My suggestions are more about reminiscing and reliving your rounds through the golf stuff lying around the house ... the scorecards, photos, golf shirts and even your social media accounts. Here is a virus-infected version of The List - a dozen enjoyable ways to enjoy your time at home, golf style, to prepare for that next glorious round:

  1. Make a golf list

    This is my specialty. I've been compiling listicle stories for Golf Advisor for seven years now, from course nicknames to the best courses built in quarries and along rivers and lakes.

    At first, I started making golf lists as a hobby. One winter, stuck in Michigan, I tried to make a list of every golf resort in America with a dream of someday visiting them all. More on that project later this year.

    As my golf writing career expanded, so did my need for a proper list. I eventually created one - a list of every golf course I've played in my life, all 1,000 courses and counting. It's actually really fun to put together and not that hard to track. I had a pile of old scorecards to jar my memory when I first did the research about a decade ago. Anyone can do it at any point in their lives. Creating a spreadsheet or word document by state makes organization a cinch.

    Another golf writer I know, Minnesota's Eric Hart, has created a bucket list of courses he hopes to play someday. He updates it regularly and shares it on Twitter for feedback about what designs he should add or drop. Putting together lists like these will hopefully help you get through these dark days until better ones arrive.

    How have you been spending your time at home "social distancing" during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments below.

  2. Clean out your golf bag

    This is a required chore before the start of any season. Golf, post-pandemic, will definitely feel like a new beginning, especially if the odd rules of social distancing stick around awhile.

    I'm always shocked at what I find when I dig deep into the pockets of my golf bag ... old candy, crushed granola bars, receipts, broken tees, tattered business cards, etc. I always take out most of the shag balls I've found and store them in my backup bag in the attic. Some day they'll probably be donated. Sometimes, this process even leads to a bag switch. I've got a few I keep in a rotation, although it's tough to put my light-weight, walkable Jones bag away for too long. It's so easy to travel with, and its limited pocket space keeps clutter to a minimum.

  3. Dive deep on golf social media

    Social media is the ultimate time waster.

    There's lots of ways golfers can burn up the hours. On Twitter, I've seen at least three different March Madness brackets pitting golf courses against one another to determine the 'champion'. Our own local Golf Advisor, Bryan Tweed, recently wrapped up his version for Chicagoland's best public courses.

    Golf lists are hot on Facebook. The "Golf Nonsense List" asks you to share your favorite golfer, golf movie, aces made, fantasy foursome and more. I've seen fellow golfers asking me to share my favorite golf photo on all three of my social accounts: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    There are plenty of conversations to start, arguments to shout and enlightenments to share across golf's social space. Social media is like dessert, though, so be careful. It can taste great, but consuming too much of it will leave you sick to your stomach.

  4. Organize your old scorecards/photos
    A holder could help you organize scorecards from your favorite rounds.

    For years, I've been treating my old scorecards like they are baseball cards from my youth.

    I've organized them into five different shoe boxes by state. Last Christmas, I got this fancy little organizer pictured above that is supposed to hold my favorite scorecards. I'll probably pull out a few Top 100 courses I've played and add a few "best rounds" scorecards in there, so I can find them when somebody calls me a liar regarding career milestones - lowest score (74), most birdies in a round (4), lowest nine (34), etc.

    In the early days of golf writing before digital pictures became all the rage, I use to organize my golf photos into albums and scrapbooks. Thankfully digital cameras came along and made storing pictures on a hard drive so much more practical.

    For those who have important scorecards and golf photos laying around, maybe it's time to organize them, throw them out, recycle them or find them a proper home. The walk down memory lane will be worth it.

  5. Review a few golf courses

    Writing reviews of all the recent golf courses you've played is a great way to start thinking about golf: How you played, what you liked about the course, what you didn't. Think of it as a public service for all golfers out there, and golf courses will appreciate the feedback as well. You can write these reviews in a variety of ways, from your own blog to message boards. Or find a course here and get started.

  6. Clean out the closet of unused golf attire
    My closet of unused golf shirts, shoe boxes full of scorecards and too many golf hats needs a good cleaning.

    Every day, I pick out my clothes and stare down at the opposite end of the closet, where dozens of golf shirts I don't wear congregate. I think, "Man, I gotta get rid of a few". Today's the day. I've got time. You've got time, too.

    Pulling a few out to fold up and give away to someone who will appreciate them might spark a few memories. The same goes for the hats. Why do I have 20 sitting on the top shelf when I only wear about 5? Time to move on. An uncluttered life is the best life. Even if it means parting with a few golf trinkets from the past.

  7. Plan a golf trip

    Okay, I don't mean actually book a golf trip. That should wait until there's more certainty in the world.

    But there's no reason you can't daydream about your next golf adventure. Go online and start scouting prices of courses to play and where to stay. If you're an obsessive person like me, you can plan minute-by-minute itineraries, picking where to eat and calculating driving distances between courses and all the necessary details to make the getaway as enjoyable as possible.

    August 11, 2019

  8. Go artsy on golf

    I'm not too artistic but for those who are, golf art could be a nice escape from the daily routine. Some people like to sketch out golf holes like they're Doak or MacKenzie. Architect Ian Andrew has used the time away from designing and renovating courses to paint golf holes and landscapes. They're pretty good. I wouldn't mind one for my man cave.

  9. Watch golf on TV
    Caddyshack has become a cultural touchstone for golfers and the wider culture.

    This is a no-brainer. I work for Golf Channel, so, of course, I want you to watch. Hey, we just started airing throwback episodes of Big Break on Mondays. That's cool, right? There's also plenty of classic Feherty episodes and golf tournaments to relive.

    Or you can catch a classic golf movie on cable or streaming service somewhere ... Caddyshack, Tin Cup or my favorite, Happy Gilmore.

    2 Min Read
    April 6, 2020
    CBS, ESPN and Golf Channel will all televise memorable Masters moments.

  10. Film a golf trick shot

    You don't have to be the Bryan Brothers - with PGA Tour talent - or Dude Perfect to film a great golf trick shot at home. Get creative in how you set it up. Down the stairs, off the sleeping dog, into the washing machine! If it takes you 100 times to hit the shot perfect, so be it. You've got time. Have some fun, and maybe all the practice will help your short game.

    View this post on Instagram

    Few different ways to get to the same place #bored

    A post shared by Cole Hammer (@cole_hammer) on

  11. Read a golf book

    Considering my collection of golf books numbers 500-plus, I've got a lot reading to do. I'm currently splitting my time between a book on Stanley Thompson, the famous Canadian golf architect, and catching up on golf magazines that end to pile up in my office. I'll be honest, though, reading about golf tends to put me to sleep, just like a golf tournament on TV on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    4 Min Read
    April 1, 2016
    Jason Scott Deegan's 10 favorite golf books are good reads for you, or great gifts for the golfer in your life.
    4 Min Read
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    From Harvey Penick's Little Red Book to Ben Hogan's Five Lessons, these books are essential for any golfer's library.

  12. Build a backyard golf hole

    I did this long before I was a golfer. My sisters and I built a six-hole putt-putt course when I was about 10. We used firewood logs as the walls to frame the holes and put toys in as obstacles. I wish I had a photo to share, but it was definitely the pre-smart-phone days back in the early '80s.

    Living in California, my yard is barely big enough for some grass where the dogs can do their thing, but maybe it's time to channel my inner Carl Spackler and mow out a small putting green.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
3 Comments
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Commented on

Another idea: throw out all of the golf shirts that you haven't worn in over 12 months.

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Commented on

This Sux.

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Commented on

Ken - may I suggest an English spelling course! Stay safe!

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The best ways golfers can pass the time at home