I putted out on the 18th, eschewed the traditional handshake – we joked about the elbow bump – and returned to the packed clubhouse.
The prevailing view, one I found incredulous even then but I’d spent way too much time reading about what was going on in Italy, was that this would all just blow over.
We had a laugh, we had a pint, we had some lunch, and we crossed fingers we’d done all right in the Stableford.
That was a week ago. Everything at my golf club has changed.
Qualifiers? Gone. The season was scheduled to start at the end of the month but we’ve basically thrown the competition calendar out of the window.
We’re hoping the campaign can start in earnest in July but, honestly, who knows? There’s a bare bones structure in place for the next few weeks – an odd medal here and a Stableford there like you might see in winter – but it’s skeleton at best.
I think many of us are just praying we’ll still be able to take to the course in a couple of weeks.
I’m part of a rules and competition committee that’s had to make some rather sweeping alterations to try and keep members and staff safe amid a conflict against an invisible enemy.
Here’s what normal now looks like for us – at least for the foreseeable future.
We’ll book our tee times online as we always have, but that’s where the ordinary ends.
Now, if we come to play in a comp, we’ll report to the golf team at the back entrance of the clubhouse, who will sign us in to the software. No more poking at a touchscreen for us.
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We’ll pick up a scorecard from a bundle and one of us will enter the details for our group.
One card, one marker, one signature. Social distancing is, of course, the key. Staying two metres away from your pals feels achievable, if slightly unnerving all the same.
When the round is over, the marker will read out the scores to a golf team member who’ll input them. The card never changes hands. It goes straight in the box.
On the course, the rakes for bunkers are gone. If I find the trap, I play out of it and smooth it as best I can with club or foot.
It’ll be pretty old school and, after this, we might never complain about a footprint in the sand again.
Flagsticks are immovable objects. Basically, don’t touch them unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Our greenkeeping team have turned the cup upside down. The ball doesn’t sink to the bottom and neither do our fingers. It’s simple, but ingenious, and it is no wonder so many clubs round the country are doing the same.
If it all seems surreal, then you remember you are living in unprecedented times. And no one really knows how it is all going to turn out.
For now, all we can do is hope. Hope the sacrifices so many are making all over the world are enough to stem the tide of this virus. Hope we all come through it without danger.
And, though it matters so little in the wider scheme, hope we can continue to play this game we love for as long as we can.
What is your club doing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic? Are competitions going ahead as normal? Is your handicap on the line this weekend? Have your say in the comments, or tweet me.
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We dive deep into the golf ball roll back plans!