Golf in the Age of Coronavirus

I’ll always remember the week of March 15-21, 2020 as the time when normal went out the window. With the world on edge, my family out of town, and the parameters of my professional work changing by the minute, I had a whole week to myself and lots of time to reflect on what all this rapid change means for my life. Naturally, I turned to golf as a means for sorting through my thoughts and emotions. During the dawn of what feels like a new age, I spent seven straight days exploring what affects the covid19 pandemic is having on my life. The most meaningful of those many hours were the ones I spent on the golf course.

Golf has always been a calming source in my life. Even when I’m playing poorly, the game takes me away from my most weighty stress points. During this week of troubling news cycles, falling stock prices, and intense professional challenges, I was able to retreat to the golf course each afternoon for some of the most cathartic outings of my life. In total, I played 90 holes of golf and by the time I finished the last of them I felt both exhausted and ready to do my job as a father, husband, professional, and writer in the coming months.

This wild week began with me leaving my wife and daughter a few hours away in Pensacola to stay with my in-laws for a few extra days after we all attended a wedding there. What originally was supposed to be a couple of days away turned into an entire week after both my wife’s job and mine slammed the brakes on our normal work schedules. With my family a few hours away, I was left at home to get things in order for what will assuredly be a new normal in the coming weeks. Besides picking up some supplies, working from home, and getting other affairs in order, I spent the remaining hours in search of my center out on the golf course. Thanks to social media, I already had a great system in place for documenting my thoughts through it all.

At the start of this year, I decided to use my Instagram page to share a brief golf story each day. That exercise has been both fun and therapeutic. I have come to treasure the short daily notes as they reflect my experiences in golf in a raw and honest way. I’ve found that those golf stories also have a tendency to connect with my readers and friends in a convenient and rewarding fashion. Some of those stories have come from observations made on the course during the day of the post, but many are the result of memories, theories, and believes I have formed about golf over the years. My posts from this week were a great way to share my takeaways about what golf means in this moment and how it has helped me and surely many others during this strange crisis.

As I was plumbing the depths of the game as part of my week-long walkabout, I spent time connecting with friends(although at a distance), appreciating both good shots and bad, and discovering that my favorite game may just be the perfect prescription for these tumultuous times. Those thoughts and feelings come out in my Instagram posts from the week. With my family now home, I’m taking a break from the course for a few days, but I wanted to put those posts together and provide some additional insights into what I feel was one of the most unique weeks of my adult life.

What follows are the daily accounts of that week and the posts that resulted from the golf I played.

Sunday, March 15

The week began on Sunday afternoon, where I played 18 holes with friends after coming off the road. We played until dark and it was a perfect appetizer for what was to come in the days ahead. My first round of the week was a good reminder that golf can indeed be a great way to combat anxiety by focussing only on what I can control. With the Sun going down and my swing falling into rhythm,  I felt like I was at the start of an important journey inwards.

Monday, March 16

By the time my Monday came to a close, our office had decided to move to a remote working arrangement for the foreseeable future. With many of the events and meetings that we plan as part of my professional life canceled or postponed, the way in which I work was being disrupted, to say the least. As for golf, the debate over whether courses should stay open was quickly heating up. My nine-hole round that night inspired a short acrostic poem on the subject.

 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

After a full day of working from home, I slid out to the golf course for our Tuesday night skins game. It felt strange that we were still able to host this weekly outing considering the state of affairs sweeping over our world. To be honest, I felt conflicted. As bad as I wanted to be on the golf course with my friends I also felt a societal obligation to comply with the behavioral changes needed to keep the covid19 virus at bay. Despite those conflicting feelings, we played on. The time on the course that evening inspired a post I was proud of. It also sparked the idea for a video essay that has been very well received.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

My favorite playing partner is my dog, Leon. I’ve expounded on our golfing relationship many times, but this week it felt important to include him in my outings. With my family out of town, Leon was my closest companion for most of the week. I always encourage my followers and friends to take the dog on the course if they can. That night, Leon and I were joined by another friend and his dog for a walk which was a highly enjoyable experience.

 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

When I arrived at the course late Thursday afternoon, I saw that our maintenance staff had pulled the cups up so that they stood a few inches out of the hole. The bunker rakes had also been removed from the course. This trend was sweeping across the golfing world as a way to reduce touches on shared surfaces – a recommendation by some golf organizations for safe play during the pandemic. Seeing this change to the game left me with a strange feeling that things will be different for quite some time.

Friday, March 20, 2020

For the first five days of the week, I played at my home course – Capital City Country Club. By the time Friday rolled around I was ready for some fresh scenery. Fortunately, a good friend of mine is a member of the new Seminole Legacy Golf Club a few miles down the road. The course is quite a challenge and I’m glad I caught it on a good day. I had one of the best ball-striking rounds in months and walked off the course with a sense that maybe I had found a sharp version of my game again. It was the kind of round I only find a few times per year.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Our club was supposed to have a tournament that day, but we wisely canceled with so much disruption occurring across our community. With time on our hands, twenty or so of us decided to have a small event ourselves – a two-man best-ball competition. Feeling good about my game I liked my odds to win a few bucks, but perhaps the long week finally caught up to me. I played terribly, but the day was not lost as a good friend and fellow competitor had the best round of his life. I saw him have an out of body experience, going birdie-eagle-eagle-birdie on the back nine en route to a score of 67. Like many, he’s got a lot on his mind right now, but as I watched him slip into a state of deep relaxation on the course I was reminded again of the power golf has to improve our mindsets and overall well being. After the round he had, I don’t think he’ll ever see golf the same. The week as a whole had a similar effect on me.

 

I hope you enjoyed this recounting of my golf experiences during the strange and unstable times of the covid19 pandemic. This week was one of the weirdest and most enlightening of my life. I wanted to pull all the content I made together into one article so that folks can digest it as they please. Adding some insights to that work in retrospect was also a good way to relive the experience. I’ve got a feeling I’ll want to come back and read all this again myself someday too.

I’m not sure what will happen in the coming months, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to come back to golf as a way to find my center during these trying times. Life may be a bit different and things will certainly be tough, but I believe this wonderful game is well suited to help us all get through it.