COVID Blues

Hello, darlin . . . it’s been awhile . . .

(Oops, wrong site)

But it HAS been awhile, and given the current state of affairs (in case you missed it, we’re in the midst of a major pandemic or a gigantic hoax, depending on whether or not your head is in the sand or in some other dark place that shall remain nameless. I prefer to believe the former), I thought it would be an appropriate time to check in on the state of things in the world of golf.

As you doubtless know, pretty much all of professional golf activity is on hold, and there is a great deal of variance among the states (and in some cases, in individual counties within states) as to how to proceed locally with the game. Here in the higher elevations of Colorado, this has been until very recently a moot point, as snow cover had pretty much rendered our courses unplayable; however, in other parts of the state, courses have been open for a good part of the winter. Once the realization set in that what we were dealing with was a bit more serious than the common cold, course managers took what have come to be the standard precautions – maintain social distance, don’t remove or touch the flagstick, cups are raised so that a ball is considered “holed” if it strikes the cup, a single rider per cart (if carts are allowed at all).

Steamboat Golf Club, the track at which I’m employed during the summer, is ready to play; however, the county powers that be have required that it stay closed until “stay at home” orders have been lifted on April 26. Meanwhile, over in Moffat County (a mere 40 minute drive from Steamboat Springs), Yampa Valley Golf Club in Craig CO opened 9 holes this week. While Steamboat Springs is dealing with over 30 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (and one death), Moffat has reported zero cases, which either means they are extremely fortunate or are about to get slammed.

Not even an admitted golf addict like myself would consider the game an essential business (essential to one’s being? A different matter altogether), but the variance in policy has led to some minor malfeasance. Massachusetts, for example, has closed all golf courses. Bordering Rhode Island has issued an edict stating that anyone entering from out of state would need to undergo a 14 day quarantine. Three golfers from the Bay State took the rather desperate measure of meeting at a McDonald’s and transferring their clubs into a vehicle with Rhode Island plates. An employee of The Arches turned them in; they now face a court date.

This so much reminds me of those days growing up in Massachusetts, where the drinking age was 21, but in neighboring New York, being 18 got one into a liquor store or bar. This led to some pretty harrowing trips back across the state line after a night of partying for my friends and me – and I’m sure there were plenty of grim outcomes for a lot of would-be revelers.

As someone who walks the fine line between believing in the innate goodness of people versus witnessing truly idiotic behavior, I find myself torn on whether or not course should be open at this time. The Optimist tells me that the majority of people who play the game would have enough sense to observe the special rules in place and be grateful for the opportunity to interact with friends who would otherwise be unable to do so. The Pessimist … well, there’s too many reasons to list.

For now . . . it’s hitting balls off of the deck while wearing a mask for me.

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