Dan Murphy wasted no time in returning to the golf course at the earliest opportunity. And, he discovered, it was like getting into a warm bath
It’s the small things, the ones that are part of any round of golf: Pulling a lovely new Titleist 1 out of my bag on the 1st tee; the smell of a FootJoy StaSof.; the satisfying swish of my Ping driver; being struck by what a wondrous piece of equipment my Bushnell laser is.
All things I take for granted, truth told, in the normal run of things. But not today.
I was a little worried when I arrived at Scarthingwell Golf Club, my local club, for a couple of holes. I was with my son, Fred, who is taught there by PGA professional Tony Howarth. It was our longest excursion in months.
Actually, I had three areas of concern. The first was that I would fall foul of one of the new rules of golf after lockdown. The second was that I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore, that I would struggle to get the ball off the ground. And the third was that golf just wouldn’t be enjoyable under these restrictions.
My last game of golf, before today, was at The Machrie, of all places, on the Isle of Islay at the end of February. That’s almost three months ago. I don’t think I’ve ever gone three months without playing golf in my adult life.
Let’s start with the Covid-19 precautions. I put my golf shoes on in the car, just to be extra-safe, and we headed straight for the 1st tee. So that was fine. We didn’t engage with the putting green, instead heading immediately to the sanctuary of a sanitiser, which made us feel that bit safer.
Because my playing partner was my son, we didn’t have to worry about social distancing, but for the first few holes that was weird.
Even though I haven’t been two metres away from Fred at any point for the past two months, it felt like we shouldn’t be walking side by side up the fairways, just because nobody else was.
I thought I might get arrested by the golf police when I left footprints all over a bunker (no rakes, remember).
And I was terribly worried that I would be unable to pick the ball out of the hole without impaling myself on the flagstick.
In turns out that I could. And also that I can still get the ball in the air. I even made a birdie. Fred came this close to his first par.
We both hit some shots that made us smile. All the other golfers we saw were smiling too. And they were adhering to the new and unfamiliar rules.
Once we were out on the course, the game of golf after lockdown was much the same as it was before lockdown, certainly in the company of a family member as I was.
It was fresh air, it was exercise, it was a test of sporting skill, it was an opportunity to talk to each other, it was occasionally infuriating – it was everything it should be.
My advice to you? If you haven’t already, get a tee time booked and get back out there. You’ll love it.
Have you managed to get out and play yet? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us.
Golf after lockdown: Essential reading
- A handy guide of dos and don’ts for playing after lockdown
- Governing and professional bodies issue advice to clubs
- Booked a tee time? Now make sure your equipment is ready
- Greenkeepers urge golfers to curb expectations when courses reopen
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