What the coronavirus means for everyday golfers

Golfers could choose to play on, while the pros sit on the sidelines.
The second hole on the par-3 course at Santa Teresa Golf Club in San Jose.

Golf courses have always been a form of escapism, a place to file away your worries. I'm not sure how this applies to the world's current situation.

Like every other major sport, professional golf is officially on hold. Even The Masters has been postponed, a sure sign of the seriousness of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Will everyday golfers self-quarantine, too?

As someone who works in both the travel and golf industries - two of the hardest hit during this pandemic - the uncertainty of it all is quite unsettling. Nothing feels normal. The world of golf isn't top of mind among the issues plaguing the country, although it's at least worth discussing the state of the game during this crisis.

Should you play golf?

I last teed it up March 11, the day before all the chaos ensued. The entire facility was packed - the range, putting green, par-3 course and regulation one. It was a welcoming sight, one that will likely be rare at U.S. golf clubs over the next month or more.

Large gatherings - sporting events, concerts, cruise ships and theme parks - are taboo in the current climate, but are foursomes still okay?

Earlier this week, Pasatiempo, the famous Dr. Alister MacKenzie course in Santa Cruz, Calif., sent out an e-mail to customers indicating its staff was doing extra cleaning, installing hand sanitizer stations throughout its buildings and had turned off its popcorn machine.

The Golfing Union of Ireland and the Irish Ladies Golfing Union released a joint statement March 12 pertaining to recommendations for all Irish golf clubs. The guidelines include:

* Social aspects of club life should be avoided.
* Hourly cleanings of high-touch areas like doorknobs.
* A regular changing of towels.
* Discouraging visitor play or having a screening process in place.
* Canceling events with shotgun starts, which cause large gatherings before and after the rounds.
* Elbow bumps should replace handshakes and hugs.

All common sense stuff, but it's noteworthy that closing wasn't one of the suggestions. I don't know about you; I don't plan on hanging up the clubs as long as I'm healthy. With all the stress and newfound free time (with schools and youth sports canceling), I could theoretically play more. It would be wise to play locally, avoiding travel and supporting your own community.

Pro golf shutdown

Casual golf will go on in some form, probably on a smaller scale given that the older generation is more likely to stay home. Life on the pro tours is much more complicated. Postponing/canceling events felt right. Being a pro athlete involves all the public hassles of travel - hotels, rental cars, airplanes, Ubers, eating out in restaurants, etc. - that might help spread the outbreak.

Dozens of pro and amateur golf events have already been shelved or postponed, according to Golfchannel.com: the next five PGA Tour events; six LPGA Tour tournaments; five European Tour events; the NCAA Championships; the Monday after the Masters pro-am and benefit concert in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival, etc.

Will this lack of golf on TV - and sports in general - make your heart grow fonder for the game? I know I will miss it. It's time to hope for the best, and realize how good life can be when it's normal.

How will coronavirus impact your outlook on golf? Let us know in the comments below.

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.
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if i touch the wrong golfball ,could i catch the coronavirus ? Thanks

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Jason I wonder if you would have a different view if you could have foreseen what has happened To date. As I mentioned to you in my note from weeks ago if you need advice about your game of golf you ask an expert, the same applies to medicine. If there is a conflict between two topics of golf v medicine then medicine wins every time. It is a matter of life and death for others as well as yourself.

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Phil, clearly the world view has changed since this was written. I haven't played golf. In fact, living in the Bay Area, I haven't gone out in public in nearly a month, except to walk my dogs around the neighborhood. The state and local government mandates have virtually closed golf in California - a move I support.

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Ok yes, maybe golfing with friends and doing elbow bumps with them is a bad idea but I don’t think that golf should be cancelled for golfing with family, I am around my family 24/7 now because of this pandemic so it couldn’t be any more harm to golf with your family, even when I golfed last year I would never come within six feet of anyone anyway. The people saying you’ll go within 6 feet of a random golfer is just bizarre anyway, you’re telling me some random guy is just standing 5 feet away from you while you’re hitting your tee shot, I don’t think so.

You could just hold the flag with a Lysol wipe, if you use one Lysol wipe every two holes then you would only need to use 9, if you’re playing 18, it doesn’t even have to be Lysol wipes, you could use paper towels or napkins or any thing that you’re supposed to throw out after you use it, so golf with family should definitely not be shut down

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I took some time to put together my own list of ideas to help pass the time. Check it out and let me know what im missing!

https://punchoutgolf.com/top-10-ways-to-survive-coronavirus-quarantine-when-addicted-to-golf/

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Our golf season in southern Ontario, Canada would normally just be starting the end of March or later, but remain closed due to the ever increasing corona virus, Covid-19. I would prefer to walk the course (some courses are very hilly though and designed for long distances between holes), should walking only be allowed? Walking I believe should be allowed but it seams right now the government is forcing all of us to stay home for good reason and only exit your home if you must get groceries, have a doctor's appointment or going to work are the main reasons. Staying home and social distancing is the only way to prevent the virus spread and hopefully this will flatten the curve of new cases.
Going forward, I believe walking improves everyone's health, but physically many folks cannot walk the course for a variety of reasons. Could we install a divider in between seats using a sheet of Plexiglas? or a Velcro bottom and top to secure a fabric sheet between people on the cart?
Leaving the flag in at all times could be the only way to putt in the future. I started golfing 50 years ago and would prefer the flag out visually but leaving it in will be the new normal. Golf course staff will have to clean the flag stick daily before they change the hole locations.
If we are not allowed to golf for health and safety reasons, do we let the course go fallow?
Or should staff continue to cut grass minimally in order to keep it under control?
Logical resolutions will be found, take care

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We are not using the clubhouse, meeting in the car park but observing the social distancing rule. [ Hold your driver out with your arm fully extended and add another foot]. Keeping the social distancing between holes requires concentration. However, once the tee shot has been played, social distancing in our standard of golf isn't a problem! On the greens, stand back whilst others putt, only retrieve your own ball.
That's what we are doing. Is that wrong?

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Well, despite what looks to be an overwhelming number of reader comments in favor of continuing to play golf, I’m planning to give my clubs a rest for a few weeks and take a wait and see approach. Although many say they’ll take precautions such as wearing two gloves, not touching the flagstick, only riding in golf cars that have been completely sterilized, using hand sanitizer and so on, I've got a lot of to-do’s left on my bucket list and want to be around to cross off a few more. Although you may take all the suggestions that have been mentioned in this column, it’s just too risky for me right now.

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Are golf ranges using bleach or some other agent in the ball wash machines to decontaminate the golf balls since they are handled by a golfer each time they tee up the ball?

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Golf is one of the few outdoor, non-contact sports that is played by millions of people, and so for these times can be one of the safest recreational activities for retirees and those out of school or work. Common sense should prevail to further enhance the inherent safety of this activity.
Our self imposed rules for our group of senior players includes: one person per cart, observe two club lengths apart, do not touch the flagstick, elbow bumps or club taps instead of high fives or fist bumps, use hand sanitizer often during play, and don't handle anyone else's balls.

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You adhere to staying 2-club lengths apart... yet still elbow bump? Does that not defeat the purpose? You come in close for elbow bump and run the risk of getting sick that way. Makes no sense. I still play golf as recently as this past weekend. We just use common sense... distance, enjoy the outdoors, respecting each others play and rooting for each other shot by shot.

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My concern is .... 65yo, will reduce to 9 holes and walk ( are carts sterile ) ? But who touches the flagsticks? Oh yea, everyone does! Germ free? Don’t think so! Or reaching into the cup to retrieve a ball or two. Any shedding going on there? Maybe?
I could play each green as a temporary green..... on, and two putt max. But players will still use the pin and the cup , you know they will . Maybe pull all the pins and once on .... add two strokes. Or do all the putting on one single hole on the practice green. Pin and cup sterilized first, one player per hole until putting for your round is complete. You can write on your scorecard how many feet you need to putt from and start front there. No hole sharing ! No virus sharing !

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You could wear your glove to pull the flagstick and retrieve the ball, or bring a case of Lysol wipes to wipe down the flag sticks before you pull them... and/or retrieve your ball from the hole. Hand sanitizer after questionable areas being touch, etc.

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As long as you don't then touch your face with your glove hand. I realized this on Sunday so just started using a Lysol wipe every time I grabbed the flag stick and my ball. Pretty simple solution... just a bit annoying to do each time. But safer.

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There is no question that some of the thinking here is of the highest level. We would all be better off if it came from somewhere else.

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What the coronavirus means for everyday golfers