COVID-19’s Uneven Effect on Golf

What is going on with all the disparate rules on how to manage golf courses during the emergency?  Is golf an essential business?  Is golf exercise?  Is golf just entertainment?

In Maryland, our governor shut down golf courses on March 23 as non-essential businesses.  If Lakewood Country Club (course behind my home) is a microcosm of the industry in our state, judging by the number of groups coming through after the order, people were ignoring it, even though they had to walk.  Two days later, Virginia closed non-essential businesses but golf courses and driving ranges remained open.   A week later, both states instituted ‘Stay At Home’ orders.  Lakewood pulled all the flags out and players stopped coming through, but nothing changed in Virginia.

Today, I checked with friends in West Virginia (all courses open) and Arizona, where all courses have been deemed essential businesses and are open, along with beauty salons and barber shops!  Go figure.

Today I walked 18 holes on the closed Lakewood course (without clubs) and nary ran into a sole.  Got some great exercise in.  Then I ventured across the river to Reston National in Virginia and practiced for two hours.  Here’s a video and picture of the parking lot at Reston.

I think if you lived in the DC area, you were either home or playing golf at Reston National.  Finally, I saw this article about golfing in Brampton, Ontario.  Apparently, it’s illegal because of the virus and could cost you a big time fine.  Unbelievable that it’s come to this.

I very much enjoy getting out to play and practice while socially distancing.  Helps me to keep my sanity.  Where do you stand on golf as an essential business?  Is it?

6 thoughts on “COVID-19’s Uneven Effect on Golf”

  1. Brian,

    Well, this is a very tough question. In Ontario, all golf courses are closed and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The reason for this is not just about spreading the virus by toughing the flag or cart, but the close proximity of people while on the range, waiting at the tee, or in the parking lot.

    In Canada, we are trying to #flattenthecurve by preventing undue travel by people. It seems to be working, but the next week or two will be the worse. I am on the “stay home unless you need to go out” side of the fence.

    Like all other sports, golf is not essential (although mentally and physically it helps me). By closing golf courses, we are trying to limit the spread of COVID-19 so that essential workers remain as healthy as possible so we can get through this pandemic as quickly and safely as possible. We have examples of where COVID-19 has made its way into a nursing home and killed over a third of the residents.

    The challenge is that if we do not take action as a collective, we will be facing more deadly challenges down the road. So, it does sadden me to see the golf courses closed, but I think it is for the best in the short term.

    Stay safe!

    Cheers Jim

    1. Jim, thanks for your thoughtful response. When I went to practice yesterday I had a couple observations. First, I was a little leery about how to distance myself on the practice green. I knew the facility had put foam in all the cups out on the course, but found regularly cut cups on the chipping/putting area. I put a couple tees in front of the hole I was working with so my ball wouldn’t go in and require me to reach in and retrieve. Second, while I was changing out of my spikes in the parking lot, I overheard some fellas smack talking each other about the match they had just played, and found that very pleasing. Obviously it was a smidgen of reality that I was clinging to.

      After returning home, I found this video from Dr. David Price, a critical care pulmonologist on the front lines in a New York hospital, and found his words on what I should and should not be doing reassuring and comforting. Take a look if you have a few minutes and let me know what you think.



  2. I have found it very interesting how everyone is looking at golf and golf courses so differently. Ohio and West Virginia open and Pennsylvania closed. This is an historic and unprecedented time and the answer to every question and situation should be I don’t know and time will tell. Of course no says that.

    1. Vet, we all have our own opinions and some of that may stem from our different backgrounds with illness and disease. Certainly understandable. Try to do what’s best for you and your community. It’s a balancing act.

      Stay well!


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