You still can play golf during coronavirus scare — here’s how to handle it

We were talking the other day about the possibility of having to stay away from the office during the coronavirus outbreak.

“I know!” I said. “We could have meetings on the golf course!”

I was only half-kidding. I focused on the positives: fresh air, you’re not near a lot of other people (especially when you’re not in the fairway, which is often for some of us), more opportunities to enjoy our great game …

And talk about impressive planning by the R&A and USGA in instituting that new rule last year: Now we don’t even have to touch the flagstick when we’re ready to putt. How did they know the coronavirus was coming along, making it feel unsafe to touch anything without washing your hands for 20 seconds?

Obviously, this is no laughing matter, and it is imperative to stay safe – even crazy people like us who will find any reason to hit the links.

But I’m hard-pressed to think of reasons why we shouldn’t play golf as long as we take the precautions that quickly are becoming second nature in these unprecedented times.

An article on listed doctor-recommended habits that can decrease your chances of getting infected while at the course. Note that the main sources of concern are carts and the clubhouse:

  1. –Bring hand sanitizer and use it often.
  2. –Don’t stand near other groups anywhere on the course you come into contact with them.
  3. –Wipe down the parts of your clubs and bag that touch the cart.
  4. –If your ball goes in the woods, leave it there. (I like that one! Can we do that all the time?)
  5. –Don’t pick up random golf balls.
  6. –Use hand sanitizer on your glove.
  7. –If you have to use an electric cart (walking is so much better at a time like this), wipe it down thoroughly before touching it.
  8. –Do not leave your cellphone on the dashboard of the cart.
  9. –Get sodas and drinks from the beverage cart, not in the clubhouse, and wipe off the plastic bottle or aluminum can before touching it.
  10. –Stay out of the clubhouse as much as you can.
  11. –Don’t shake hands with anyone. That’s a wonderful tradition we have at the end of a round, but now’s not the time for it.

It is important to emphasize that if you have any qualms about going to a public place, and especially if you don’t feel well, you should stay home. This would be a great time to watch those instructional golf videos you’ve been meaning to check out.

But the main reason all these pro tournaments were postponed or canceled was to avoid having large groups of people congregate. I was a little surprised the tournaments weren’t allowed to go on without fans – the players could police their safety precautions, and we could have watched on television.

I also thought of this: Remember all those times when the big crowd alongside a fairway or green has prevented a pro’s ball from getting into deeper trouble? They were going to have to live in our world for a change, with no one to watch them and nothing to stop an errant shot.

At least we wouldn’t have been subjected to some idiot in the crowd yelling, “Get in the hole!” That would have been so peaceful for both the pros and the TV viewers.

Oh well … we still have the opportunity to play. Just don’t go in any bunkers – you don’t want to have to touch the rake. And if you get a hole-in-one, no handshakes or hugs or high-fives.

The camaraderie might be a little less joyful, and we’ll miss the trip to the 19th hole. But I’ll take the real thing over virtual golf. It’s still the best place of all for a business meeting.

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