"I couldn't help but think that the elderly, the most at risk, would surely benefit from a few holes from time to time in the cool spring air."
Last update: 03/26/20 4:57 pm
After UK golf authorities ordered the closure of all courses, Ewen Murray gives her verdict on a tough decision in tough times …
Last weekend, I was walking my dog, Islay, along the public path that winds through a corner of The West Sussex Golf Course. The course was understandably quiet given the world we currently live in, but there were a few golfers playing.
An elderly couple, who I discovered had been members for many years, were two of these golfers. I smiled to myself thinking they made a beautiful photo walking down the street. In these tough times, two older people enjoy fresh air and exercise that can only be good for physical and mental health.
At the time, golf was pretty much what we knew it to be. Play, yes, but stay true to the recommendations established by the government. This couple did that.
One car was on the left side of the tee, the other on the right. As they walked the streets, they were kept five yards apart, yet they went home in the same car. In short, they were doing what they had been told.
The next day the news came that golf would not be allowed across the country due to the coronavirus outbreak. I thought of that couple along with the other golfers in the British Isles. Was it the right call to stop this hobby and hobby?
In three words, you have the answer. Conveyed to the nation by our Prime Minister, the message was short and simple: "Stay home." To continue playing after that speech would be a mistake, but I couldn't help but think that the elderly, those who are most at risk, would surely benefit from some holes from time to time in the fresh spring air that the country has recently enjoyed.
Then I thought of the brilliant NHS staff and their dedication to their profession, their unwavering willingness to help everyone they come into contact with, without thinking or worrying about their own safety or well-being. The hours they have dedicated, not only in recent times and the hours they will work in the coming weeks / months.
For the next two weeks, we normally would have been looking forward to spending the hours to see the annual Augusta National show, the tournament that heralds the start of the season for many golfers.
There will be no azaleas this spring, no PGA Championship, and the US Open and 149th Open Championship are more like hope than reality. This is, understandably, somewhat depressing for golf fans around the world.
But out of all the dark tunnels the light comes out, so let's ignore the golf negatives of the present, focus on the positive, get over this and look to the future. When the world is healthy again, we have a lot to look forward to.
Golf courses around the world are resting, something they haven't had in a long time. Maintenance can be carried out by green staff without interruption by golfers. With advances in agronomy paired with the talents of the highly skilled environmentalists we are fortunate to have, when we return to the streets, your course will be a pretty picture. Augusta likes it.
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This morning I spoke to Kerr Rowan, the chief green guard for West Sussex. Despite the closure of the courses, the ecological staff can perform essential maintenance. This includes green cuts twice a week, fairways and aprons once and rough once every fortnight. Without traffic, the trails and walkways rest and have time to recover, the heavily used areas around tees and greens are the same.
I know it is frustrating that golf is redundant, but this is something we have not endured in years past and hope that we will never see such a thing again. But dream of the moment when the light turns from red to green with the major leagues behind, along with all the other tournaments and championships you expect.
Think about what your golf course will look like after this forced layover ﬀ and how much enjoyment you will get by playing again. Also, how much more will we appreciate it, as well as the sport itself.
Finally, remember the Prime Minister's words. Stay at home. This will not last forever.