Mar 23, 2020 - Sports

Golf becomes a rare athletic escape in the age of the coronavirus

Members of Craddockstown Golf Club in Kildare, Ireland, enjoy a round of golf while practicing social distancing.
Members of Craddockstown Golf Club in Kildare, Ireland, enjoy a round of golf while practicing social distancing. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

People around the world are stuck indoors without gyms to visit or recreational sports to participate in, which has made outdoor exercise difficult.

Why it matters: This has left golf — played on wide-open plots of land and doesn't require people to share equipment or come into close contact — as a rare athletic escape.

  • "I believe that adequate social distancing can be performed with golfing," Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Wall Street Journal. "If people can remain six feet apart and not touch common surfaces the game is likely safe."

Yes, but: Not all courses have remained open, and those that have stayed open are asking players to do things a bit differently.

  • New protocols: Leave the flagstick in, one person per cart, no rakes (use your feet) and no post-round handshake (replace with a "head nod" or "club tap," according to a memo sent to patrons of the prestigious Pinehurst Resort).

A bold solution: Some courses have raised the cups an inch off the ground, telling golfers to putt until their ball hits the elevated cup rather than sink their ball into the hole and have to reach their hand in to get it out.

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