Remembering the Joy of Golfing During the Pandemic

A local writer and golfer discusses the simple pleasure of stepping foot onto the golf course after months of social distancing.

Now I realize that not being able to play golf in the spring of 2020 was pretty unimportant in light of all we had to deal with when the pandemic hit. And I didn’t miss it (at first). Like all of us, I wore my mask, ventured out only for essentials, stayed upbeat, ate more vegetables and reconnected with the other adults living in my house formerly known as my children.

But eventually something had to give. How much banana bread could one man eat? Did I really watch every single show on Netflix? Does vodka smell like hand sanitizer, or does hand sanitizer smell like vodka?

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I had to get out and do something—anything that was a link to the “before times.” I needed to wrap my well-disinfected hands around the leathery grip of a golf club. And I didn’t want to hit balls into a net, or chip them into my neighbors yard, or dig out my ancient Wii golf simulator. I wanted the real deal— actual golf, on my local course, playing with someone just as crazy for normal as me.

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Only one man stood in the way of my quest: the governor. Safety is important—you’ll get no argument from me on that. I fully appreciate the need for lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing.

But, really, has the governor ever played golf? I go out there with the same guys every week, and I don’t even see them after the first tee. Then they all somehow reappear again after the 18th hole and tell me I owe them $40. Socially distant. Golf invented the term.

Golfers can’t stay safe? In what other sport do players yell if the ball is going to hit you? I could stand in a checkout line with 20 people at the liquor store, but 300 wide-open acres of grass is dangerous?

And then it happened. Golf courses re-opened (with restrictions). I was back in love with the governor and ready to snag the few rapidly disappearing tee times. That April round of golf was the first small act of “normal” for me since the pandemic began. It was like that warm smell in the air that returns to the Northeast every spring—a reincarnation for the golf deprived.

I don’t remember how I played, what score I shot, or even how warm it was. What I do remember is that I got to play. Outside. With a golf buddy.

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So, yes, I’m talking to you, golf—passer of my time, taker of my money, demander of my focus, frustrater of my patience, connecter to my friends. I took you for granted. I’m sorry. It won’t ever happen again.

We’ve taken so many things for granted over the past 12 months. But when the taken for granted becomes the wish granted, that’s when grateful happens. Hope and spring bloom eternal once again. Baseball games, concerts, soccer tournaments and family reunions will be back in our lives again soon—all those things that make living complete.

I have a lot to be grateful for and many to thank for getting us to this point—on and off the golf course. I’m grateful to our frontline workers for keeping me safe, and to our “front-nine” workers for keeping me sane. From here forward, I hope I never take any of life’s simple pleasures for granted. One thing I know for sure: I’ll never drink hand sanitizer again.

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