Why golf should be allowed

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The coronavirus is a dangerous global pandemic. The best (and for most of us, the easiest) thing we can do to help combat it is to practice social distancing.

Namely, stay at home.

Can you play golf, however?

The question is not casual. It is a real debate in the world and most certainly in the United States.

No, playing golf is not an essential activity like doctors going to hospitals or grocery stores that remain open.

Yet all but the most stringent “refuge in place” orders allow some form of recreation. Jogging. Walk the dog. Biking, whether up and down the mountains or around the block with the kids.

“Individuals can leave their homes or places of residence and travel if necessary…” reads the executive order of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

“As long as you maintain a safe social distance of six feet from people who are not in your household, you can go out to exercise, take a walk, or get some fresh air,” the governor’s read. California Gavin Newsom. .

It’s pretty standard language.

Common sense says that while COVID-19 can be a killer, a few weeks or even months of a completely sedentary population is also a major health risk. So get moving. Preferably at the level of breaking a sweat.

Just stay away from other moving people.

Which brings the debate back to golf.

A squirrel walks past the sign outside the Harvard Gulch Municipal Golf Course after it, along with other city-owned courses and parks, were closed until Friday, April 10 to consolidate activities in an effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in Denver.  According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about three to six weeks, depending on the severity of the COVID-19 illness.  (AP Photo / David Zalubowski)

Golf courses across the country are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, while some remain open. (PA)

“In most jurisdictions it is always good to get out on the golf course and enjoy the fresh air and exercise while maintaining a physical distance from other players,” said Dr Kathryn Jacobsen, Yahoo Sports Public Health Associate, Professor of Global Health Epidemiology at George. Mason.

The problem? Not all jurisdictions allow this. You can play in Ohio. You can’t in Wisconsin. You could play in Illinois, but now you can’t. You can play in California, unless your county limits it. You can play in Florida, but not in the two most populous counties in South Florida. Arizona is a yes. New Mexico is a no. Maryland and Minnesota say no. Michigan is a no. Missouri is trying to figure it out. There is no rhyme or reason for this. Check your local listings.

All should be a yes unless there is an overriding local danger, concern or travel restriction.

According to some legends, golf was invented by bored shepherds in the Scottish countryside. Small number of players. Big spaces. It can even be done alone on courses that stretch for hundreds of acres.

No one is talking about one of those charity fundraisers with two groups on each hole for a shotgun start and several rolling drink carts.

There should be no cart. No shopping carts either.

You must carry your own bag.

On tees and greens (or fairways), you stay at least six feet from a playing partner.

No sweeping of bunkers. No rakes at all. Just smooth it out with your foot and face any lie you get in the sand.

The flagstick stays in the cup, or, better, the club lifts the cups so the balls hit the side. It’s not quite PGA regulations, but these are hopeless times, not the back-9 at Augusta National.

No post-round handshake. No mid-term high-five. Hand sanitizer when needed. Then go home and take your clubs with you – if you’re at a club that stores bags.

Is it really less safe than running along a trail with other runners? It’s basically a long walk through a huge park with very few other people except you hit a ball every two hundred yards.

A good ride (not) spoiled in this case.

The 19th hole must be closed, except for curbside pickup (fairway side?), Like any other restaurant. Ditto with the drinks. It all seems pretty manageable.

As for the landscapers who take care of the course, it is not necessary that they be close to each other. Even though rounds are not allowed, the Golf Club Superintendents Association of America is lobbying governments to allow workers to continue to maintain courses so that they are ready when the ban ends. Otherwise it overflows (especially in spring) and the course is useless.

“An average 150-acre golf course is a living ecosystem requiring ongoing maintenance,” GCSAA said in a statement.

Industry groups estimate that around 2 million people work in the golf industry, which generates some $ 84.1 billion annually. While all of this business and job cannot be saved right now, some can. And while the vision for many golf courses is elite, private courses designed for the wealthy, most are run by municipalities or operate like small businesses. They are in almost every community in America.

It is a way of keeping some people employed. Without issue. While serving the public that needs something to do. Without issue.

The perception is that anyone who participates in golf – a sport – is not doing their part in the greater sacrifice of flattening the curve. It’s just a perception, however.

People need something to move, to take a mental break from the significant health, family and economic stress placed on them. There is nothing selfish about taking care of yourself if it has no negative effect on another person.

Golf well done, shouldn’t. So, if possible, open the courses.

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