As we write this we're in a uniquely dynamic time due to the spread of COVID-19. Advice for how we live with the threat of coronavirus seems to change on an almost hourly basis, however what many of our customers will be asking is, "am I still allowed on the golf course?"
The revered Golf Digest magazine posted an article on their website which you can read in full here.
Fact is, with the right precautions and perhaps a little pre- and post-round modifications, golf might be just the right antidote to the mounting fears of coronavirus. According to Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, golf as it’s normally played outdoors, with natural social-distancing built in: “would be fairly safe”. Let’s take you through some of the guidelines that golfers should remember, and take comfort in, as they think about the game as a possible escape from the current headlines.
A professional golf tournament with 25,000 spectators a day and at least another thousand support staff, media, players and officials is nothing like a packed Saturday at your local course. Golf as a form of recreation, given the right conditions, can be a lot closer to hiking. As Dr. Troisi explains, it’s the way the game is different than other activities that makes it a viable alternative to locking yourself indoors.
“You’re not in contact with a whole lot of other people, and it’s not like basketball where you’re touching and very close to other players, so you could maintain several feet of distance between people,” she said. Also, the outside aspect of golf is not trivial.
“With the caveat that there’s a lot about this virus we still don’t know, it is a kind of virus that has an envelope, which means that it’s more easily killed than some other viruses. Sunlight and other environmental conditions can kill viruses like this, so it is probable that that is true for this novel coronavirus, as well.
“So I would say in the actual playing of golf, you’re not at much risk.”
Though Dr. Troisi does think golf is a relatively safe activity in the current situation, she does advocate some changes in behavior from how people currently enjoy the game. Riding in a cart with a friend, for instance, puts you within the six-foot range, which is reason to consider walking or taking your own cart. We normally support taking caddies, but that dynamic poses new risk under the current circumstances.
Of course, that means the 18th-green handshake needs to be abandoned, at least for now. “Start a new tradition - elbow bumps, shoe bumps or the namaste bow,” Troisi said.
“Social distancing doesn’t mean you’re being a hermit,” Troisi said. “Relieving stress helps your immune system and we know that physical activity boosts your immune system, so for both mental and physical health, it’s good to get activity however you can get it without putting yourself at risk. So anything outside where you’re not putting yourself in close proximity to a lot of people can be good for you. Being in nature helps your mental health, as well.”
Less stress, physical activity, being outdoors, taking in nature. Maybe hitting more practice balls on the range or even walking the course at night with a club and a few balls. Sounds a lot like the game we love. Be careful out there.
As a company, Stewart Golf is very lucky to have customers in all walks of life. As luck would have it, one of our longest serving customers is the Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor & Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Life Sciences at a leading university. Prof Chris Haslam (pictured) plays off 12, and kindly gave us the following advice for golfers:
"Trying to keep fit and well and maintaining a positive mental attitude to life is particularly important for all us during the current Coronavirus outbreak. Providing that current Government guidance regarding social distancing is strictly followed, and subject to any restrictions on personal movements and course opening arrangements, playing golf can provide an opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise.
"Making sure that you continually maintain an appropriate distance from any playing partners and at all times act sensibly and respectfully, such as allowing ‘gimmies’ so that there is no contact with flag poles, not sharing golf clubs, etc, then playing golf may be possible. You must, however, strictly follow your club’s prevailing guidance on Coronavirus.
"If your club allows you to continue playing golf then Stewart Golf trolleys can continue to help you enjoy your game and maintain a positive mental attitude in these challenging times and the X9 Follow can help ensure that you maintain that all important social distancing.
"Remember to keep your hands clean, avoid touching your face, and at all times respect those around you. Stay safe."
Professor Chris Haslam
March 17, 2020.