Golf’s Do’s and Don’ts – Waiting Out COVID-19

I’m just as frustrated as you about the impact the virus is having on golf.  But let’s heed the great advice from Stephen Covey in his 7-Habits of Highly Effective People.  “Focus on what you can influence (your game preparation), and not your circle of concern (the virus).”  Work on your game and do not get consumed with all the bad news circulating.  Assuming your course is closed and you have tons of time on your hands, there’s a few Do’s and Don’ts to prepare for a great re-opening.  Let’s take a look.

DO:

CREATE A PRACTICE STATION

Mine is in my back yard.  I have a driving range mat, a bunch of golf balls, and three soccer cones.  I set the mat on my patio and the cones at 5, 10, and 15 yards out.

COVID-19 Backyard chipping station

I chip balls with different wedges at each cone trying to hit the cone on the fly.  I use a high, medium, and low trajectory chip.  This provides hours of fun and is great for rhythm and timing.  Don’t have a driving range mat?  Try an old piece of carpet.  Take care though not to create divots in your back yard.  It doesn’t show well for your July 4th barbeque.  I also have one of those portable driving nets in the garage that I haven’t taken out for years but am ready if I need full swing contact.  Lately, I’ve been hitting magnolia cones with a driver.  Makes for a perfect bio-degradable projectile that doesn’t fall apart.  Here’s an original how-to video:

I love what Jim at The Grateful Golfer has done in constructing a home hitting station in his garage.  His build out was pre-Corona, but works great as well, check it out!

INVENT A GAME

Fortunately, I live close to a school field.  Go find one.  With school closed, it’s always empty and perfect for an afternoon of practice with a bag shag and a pitching wedge.  For that matter, try all your wedges.  Last time at mine, I invented a new game.  The baseball diamond cages are roughly 150 yards apart.  I start at home plate on one end and use one club and one ball, hitting full and partial shots until I can clank a ball off one of the cage poles at the other diamond.  Each attempt is a par-4.  Improve your lie within six inches in any direction on all shots.  Great fun!

GET FIT- CROSS TRAIN

If you have a home gym or free weights, now is the time to start using them.  There’s a plethora of workouts you can even do without weights.  Here’s a great one from Sirkisfitness that is fast and protects your back.  Before COVID, I had been lifting in the gym.  Now I lift at home for an hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work.  On the weekends, I’ve started playing tennis and taking non-playing walks on the golf course behind my home.  The variety of activity is great for fitness and for keeping the mind clear.

PLAY-PRACTICE RESPONSIBLY

In Maryland, our courses are closed for play and practice.  In Virginia, they are open.  Both states have stay at home directives, but exercise is permitted.  I make the short trip to the Old Dominion and have conducted full-game practices under carefully controlled social distancing guidelines.  After watching this video from Dr. David Price (New York physician on the front line of treating COVID patients), I have confidence I can protect myself in any social setting, including golf courses and practice facilities.  The video is educational and empowering and is definitely worth a watch.

DON’T

OBSESS WITH COVID COVERAGE

Protect yourself and others with reasonable precautions but don’t devolve into consuming the 24-hour COVID news cycle.  Watching the daily death count is bad for your mental outlook and saps your energy.  Focus on positive news, work your game fundamentals and fitness.  You’ll be in great shape when courses are re-opened.

ISOLATE YOURSELF

I’ve begun to see this with several friends who play and some that don’t.  They are trying to social distance alone.  The isolation is taking it’s toll mentally which is translating into physical difficulties.  The mind and body are connected.  We need social interaction even in this difficult time.  If you can, get out and walk, talk to your neighbors and friends face-to-face while keeping your necessary distance.  Have a dialog with front line workers like health care providers and grocery clerks.  Tell them how much you appreciate them.  I know we need to keep our distance but remember that full isolation can start to feel like solitary confinement.  Don’t forget to call on friends and family who are isolating by themselves.

FINAL THOUGHT

This is Masters week which signifies the traditional start of the golf season.  One of my favorite activities is to play golf on Masters Sunday and plunk down for an afternoon of delight with my favorite major.  Not happening this Spring.  The Masters has been moved to November.  No worries, because rather than concerning myself with the schedule, or if the participants are going to be affected by frost or falling leaves, or how closely the tournament will be played in proximity to football, I’ll focus on my game, my health, and my mental outlook.  How about you?  Hope you find these thoughts are helpful.

Play well, stay well!