One of the great benefits of golf is its wholesomeness. It instills values like integrity, perseverance and adherence to broadly agreed-upon rules and points of etiquette. It could be said that spending time on the golf course is worthwhile because it’s time spent not getting into trouble.
Except that the coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down, at least in some locales. In cities, counties, states and countries where officials have demanded social distancing measures or the outright closure of golf courses, disobedient duffers have forced the law to get involved.
Connecticut is a state that has permitted golf operations so long as social distancing guidelines are followed. But at Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck, a group of golfers flouting social distancing guidelines drew the ire of a passerby, who drove through the parking lot of the course and took a video on her smartphone. Naugatuck mayor Pete Hess took swift action, ordering the course closed indefinitely.
In Pennsylvania, a group of members of Royal Manchester Golf Links were shooed away by police from the closed course, despite their protestations that they were paying members of the club. The state was one of the first states to order a statewide suspension of golf operations.
A similar scene played out at semi-private Tekoa Country Club in Massachusetts, another of several states where stay-at-home orders have dictated that courses remain closed for the time being. Westfield police had to disperse groups of golfers there, while mild weather last Friday lured golfers out to several other closed courses in the Bay State.
In the United Kingdom, where virtually all golf courses have ceased operations following a March 24 order, the birthplace of the game, stir-crazy would-be golfers were turned away from the municipal Stony Holme Golf Course by local police as well.
With the COVID-19 outbreak continuing to spread and having recently surpassed 1 million confirmed cases worldwide, it becomes all the more important to continue to practice social distancing, which knowledgeable health officials agree is the best way to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Golf course operators know how high the stakes are, and are earning the respect of their customers for the protective measures they have taken.
One of golf's unique advantages over other recreational activities is that it is well-suited to physical distancing. Thankfully, most golfers currently playing are taking the proper precautions. If you're planning to play soon, make sure you do your part.