We are all looking forward to heading back to the fairways and spending some much needed time on the golf course, enjoying some level of freedom that many of us have lost over the last few weeks, but exactly how will affect golf?
From the notes that I have seen from both government and national federations, golf will be affected in a minimal, yet somehow significant way. All players will not be allowed to touch the flagstick, they must either employ a “ball retrieval” system which works without the need to touch anything other than your own putter, but will there be the supply for the demand that golf courses would have, I very much doubt it, so here is the first major significant change to golf; there will not actually be a hole, federations are recommending that the hole be “covered” in someway to avoid the need to touch either the hole or the flag. “Holing out” will not be possible, so what would constitute finishing the hole? Touching the hole cover, but what if it was clear that the ball was travelling too fast to ever go in the hole?
One of the “suggestions” I personally believe should be introduced into golf itself is leaving bunkers unraked, only smoothed by the player. So, this means that each player would have to smooth over their divot marks and foot prints. This would make the game more difficult, as a bunker would return to being what it was originally designed as a hazard or penalty area. It has long been known that missing a green in a bunker rather than the rough is considered to be an advantage, but having a bunker that is not manicured would result in more difficulty. From which stems another problem, if you are taking part in a tournament, how is it fair that the first group finds bunkers in perfect condition and the following groups will not? This is not a fair playing field for all involved.
Finally, one of the aspects that we all love about golf, the social side of it will be lost, for the foreseeable future anyway. Social distancing rules, including not touching other players equipment will mean that golfers must remain some 2 metres apart. “Ready play” is also being recommended and although I am all for speeding the game up, I have a feeling that “ready play” will create an air of danger. But above all the social distancing measures will mean that players will not be able to shake hands, pick up playing partners clubs or share a buggy.
Personally, I am just as desperate as many of you as we have been in lockdown for 6 long weeks, I believe that we should be looking at staying away from golf courses until the pandemic is controllable, a vaccine or treatment has been produced. The world has been changed and we must be patient and accepting of this fact. Life will not return to how it was, and as much as I want and need the golf industry to reopen I think we should wait a while longer.