Just a week ago, recreational golfers flocked to the fairways of public and private golf courses in violation of the guidelines for staying at home and lifestyle prohibitions caused by the coronavirus pandemic . Golf, with its wide open spaces, still seemed safe.
In Somerset County, New Jersey, the five municipal golf courses registered 6,501 rounds in the first 19 days of this month, a 300 percent increase over the number of rounds. played in March last year. A similar wave of play, with players observing social distance and other limits of close interactions, took place all over the United States.
"The turnout almost overwhelmed us," said Matt Kammeyer, the golf director for Salt's Seven Lake City golf courses. "Just a lot of happy, grateful people who enjoy a round."
This week it is increasingly apparent that the delay of golf was short-lived. With stricter measures at public gatherings, our games, like everything else, live in realms of the past and present.
Over the weekend, dozens of cities and counties that oversaw hundreds of golf facilities or play their jobs indefinitely, usually under the direction of government agencies. That included courses in Somerset County and in Salt Lake City and at some Trump resort properties. Course scores remain open, but every day the appeal of golf complexes with shuttered waves evokes mushroom waves.
"A few guys I play with talk about going to Pennsylvania because some of their jobs are open," says Tom Avers, playing about 100 rounds annually on the Somerset courses in New Jersey, said Monday morning. "But I think they will probably close soon."
Kari Phenix, the senior professional at the municipal Fort Myers Country Club in Fort Myers, Florida, said she still saw about 250 golfers on her course daily, but she wasn't sure how long it would take.
"It's day to day, who knows?" she said
Fort Myers is home to the spring training complexes of the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins and is a popular winter destination for Canadians. But within two weeks, the baseball fans and tourists have left. Nearby beaches, tennis courts and communal swimming pools are closed. Social gatherings in many elderly centers have been canceled. But thousands of retirees in the Fort Myers area have stayed and play golf.
"They are mostly men, and many of them are widows and have nothing else to do," said Phenix. & # 39; What should they do? It is walking, cycling and golf. They are very thankful that we are open – everyone stops to thank.
Last week, the pandemic caused some notable changes in the recreational golf world that would have been unimaginable a month ago. . For example, golfers seemed less likely to be grumpy about their bad shots, cruel bogeys and heartless bounce. his operations were closed. "People are just too thankful to be in beautiful surroundings."
Walking on the course instead of driving a golf cart had become a new standard, something many in the golf have argued in vain for decades because of the health benefits.
And the usually-rigid United States Golf Association, director of the difficult rules of golf, even went out of its way last week to make the game and its rules easier.
To minimize contact between golfers, most courses had closed clubhouses and snack bars, removed bunker rakes and ball scrubbers, went caddy-free and encouraged the use of online payment options. But there was one more unsanitary game condition: after putting out, golfers had to put their hands into golf holes to retrieve their ball, after dozens of golfers did that before them. including foam vents that held the ball close to the top of the hole. Many golf courses even started raising the white liner cup, which is normally inserted into a hole, to about two inches above the ground. That way, an approaching ball could not fall into the hole, but instead bounce off the cup.
On Friday, the U.S.G.A. temporarily, rules have been changed to say that a ball bouncing off a cup in such a way would be considered a sunken putt for official scoring tasks.
Golf without close putts that relentlessly lip-out? For a week, golfers had a new reason to smile.
It is not clear when most closed golf courses across the country will reopen. It is also not clear how long the courses that are currently open will remain so in many different regions of the country. Private golf clubs, where most clubhouses are already closed, may or may not discourage play, but it is unlikely that many will be willing to deter their members from taking the golf bag with them. Golfers also sneak into a number of public courses.
"I was driving along a closed public golf course yesterday and saw people playing golf there," said Avers, the avid golfer who played in Morris Plains, N.J. lives. "It's probably safer than going to the supermarket."
Dr. Kryssie Woods, an epidemiologist and director of infection prevention at Mount Sinai West, a medical center in Manhattan, wrote in an email on Sunday that golfers should follow the advice of government leaders and medical professionals by staying at home.
"The more we embrace the advice to quarantine ourselves now, the sooner anyone can resume normal life, including returning to the golf course," Woods wrote.
Avers said he accepted the warnings and understood that he would take eight.
"I think I'm going to do more landscaping and read a lot of books," he said. "It's getting pretty boring. "
A week ago the sun was up and Avers was on a golf course. Monday brought heavy rain and even snow to parts of the northeastern United States.
" It was great, "he said. "Now it stinks."