It has been some time since I have written anything on my site in regards to the state of the game of golf or any aspects of it. Over these past few weeks, the spring that I and the entire golf industry had planned has been flipped on its head along with the rest of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world and into our backyard in Manitoba. The government and all those who are taking this as seriously as we should are pleading with everyone to stay home and prevent the spread of this virus. Many are abiding and staying home and social distancing, many are not and that is disappointing. For some, staying at home is an annoyance. For so many others, this has been extremely trying on their mental health and that is something that needs to be considered more than it is.
Being confined to your living room, limited to walks around the block as the extent of physical activity and the peak of social interaction being a wave from across the street or a Facetime through an iPhone is becoming "the new normal". Unfortunately, this new normal is a necessary evil to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and we must all do our part. That is not to say however, that we cannot safely do our part to social distance and flatten the curve while being physically active, socialize with a few friends and gain some sanity for our mental health. Enter golf.
Golf is one sport or activity that possesses the ability to social distance while getting outside, exercising, socializing and focusing on something other than what Donald Trump is doing that day. With 200+ acres of green space for golfers to safely roam, the golf course can provide a fantastic outlet for individuals to get out of the house as the weather turns for the better.
As I write this, all courses in Canada with the exception of a select few in British Columbia have been mandated closed or opted to close their doors for the time being. I respect this decision as golf courses are not without their risks, there is no arguing that. However, golf courses who are fortunate enough to be open or were planning to open at this time of year, are implementing a number of practices to eliminate direct contact and provide a safe venue for people to enjoy in these extraordinary times. This is something that can easily be done in Manitoba as well. Limiting the number of people allowed in the pro shop, spacing tee times further apart, providing online advanced payment options, one person per golf cart, flags remaining in the cup and the cups themselves lifted out of the hole so that no golfer has to reach into the bottom of the cup to get their ball. The list goes on and on of all the measures that courses can and will implement to ensure the safety of the public and their staff.
I do not think I can stress enough the fact that these plans only work if the public abides by policies set by the golf courses. If people continually refuse to follow guidelines we will see the government step in and not only close courses but hand out fines to businesses and individuals in a time when no one can afford anymore financial blows. The consequences of the poor choices made by a few have the potential to cripple some golf courses to the extent where they may not be able to recover. Lost jobs, lost wages, lost income, lost golf courses.
Here is the line you have all been waiting to see, GOLF COURSES SHOULD OPEN & ARE ESSENTIAL. But not for the reason you may think.
Obviously, I am very bias in wanting the golf course to open. It is my livelihood. But the biggest reason I think golf courses should be open is not because of the financial loss. Its not because of the job losses. It is not even because I have some fancy new clubs that I want to try. It is because golf is essential to everyone's mental health, in these times more than ever! At this moment, there is nothing that anyone can do outside aside from walking around the block or on some hiking trails while maintaining a safe distance from everyone else trying to keep their sanity. This is all for a good reason, I am not questioning why we have to do this because we do. But, golf, when done properly, can provide a safe activity for people to get out of their house, see some different faces (from 6 feet away) and take their mind off the extremely stressful COVID-19 infected days. We have to look out for our physical health, no question but our mental wellbeing is arguably just as important and golf can help with that. Everyone must do their part or we will all be stuck in our homes for a very long time and frankly that makes me more than a little concerned.
So, if we are able to golf this year, show that we can come together and be safe and responsible. Your actions affect more than just yourself now more than ever. Together, we got this.