No fans for pros? Get ready to follow the bouncing balls

When the 2019-20 PGA Tour season finally resumes next month without fans, the pros will get a taste of what we mortals have known for oh so long.

Bad bounces.

Wayward shots going even more wayward.

Lost balls that don’t get found by someone standing right where the shot landed.

And no one rooting you on.

Welcome to the amateur version of our great game, guys. Maybe you’ll come to appreciate what we’re up against besides our lack of ability.

We’ve seen it time and again:

The tournament leader is faltering. He has bogeyed the last two holes. His lead is down to one shot. And then he hits an absolutely miserable shot to the next green.

But wait! The ball hits a spectator in the leg and bounces harmlessly back toward the putting surface, stopping in a place where he can easily get up and down. If it hadn’t hit anyone, it would have been in all kinds of trouble. But he has gotten a break that the pros probably count on from time to time, and he goes on to win the tournament.

Or how about this one:

Many greens are surrounded by massive grandstands. Hit a ball up there and you get relief. It might not be in a great spot, but you’ll at least have a shot.

When the course is playing normally, that shot ends up under a bush or 40 yards from the green or behind a tree. We don’t get to find a spot that suits us better. We watch helplessly as our mistake turns lethal.

And then there’s this:

Losing your golf ball still qualifies as one of the most frustrating experiences you’ll ever have on the golf course. You saw your drive clearly. It landed right here. You’re sure of it. But it’s nowhere to be found.

At most pro tournaments, there are people everywhere. If the ball somehow misses the fans next to the fairway, chances are someone will see where it landed and can point it out. The number of on-course volunteers figures to be reduced for the first few events, so the pros might be on their own when they hit one sideways.

Finally, something else that shouldn’t be taken lightly:

Wouldn’t it be nice to have someone cheering for you every time you did something well on the golf course? Wouldn’t it be nice to tip your cap to their applause? I wonder what that feels like.

The pros won’t have that anymore. Yes, they won’t miss (and neither will anyone else with an ounce of common sense) the “Get in the hole!” idiots who ruin the spectating experience. But it might be kind of lonely out there.

One positive to not having all those fans on the course: When a pro hits one in the woods, it won’t take 10 minutes to move the fans out of the way before the next shot.

We keep hearing that these guys are good; now we need to see that these guys play fast, too. As well as most of them hit the ball, they should be able to get around in less than four hours.

I’m looking forward to seeing how they adjust, especially if they get one of those bad breaks to which we’ve become accustomed. They’d better not complain. Not once.

I hope the television production includes more opportunities to hear their chatter among themselves. The microphones certainly should be able to pick it up.

And when they’re interviewed, it will be fascinating to hear what they think of playing golf without fans. Mark my words, one of them is going to say it:

“It’s too quiet.”

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