Golf in a Time of Pandemic

The other day I may have played my last day of golf for the season. Here in Michigan, snow is in the forecast for the coming days. Soon our course will be hard frozen and covered in snow. Another season over.

I usually would not write about my playing golf. Even on my best days, my game is nothing to cheer about. But these are not the best of days. These are the worst of days. The pandemic has upended all of our lives. And so, golf has offered my playing partners and me moments of solace.

Most of my golf buddies are retired. They have missed vacations as well as visits with children and worse with grandchildren. We live now in isolation, apart from loved ones as well as friends.

Getting out on the course is a refuge. We mask up on the №1 tee box, but once we’re out on the course, we keep socially distant, and so masks are not necessary. For the next few hours, we can revert to the banter that sustains us, laughing and joking at one another’s mishits as well as praising the good shots or long putts that one or more of us make.

This year for me has been different. I did not play in our league, something I truly missed. I did not feel comfortable in overly congregant settings, even on a golf course. Hardly a sacrifice, but it was a loss of something, the community of men at play.

Uncertain tomorrows

Writing about golf in a time of plague and uncertainty seems almost supercilious. Millions and millions more have truly lost part of themselves. So many have suffered, and so many have died. Golf is inconsequential.

Yet golf for me, and for my pals, has been a refuge. A return to presumed normalcy that we know is no longer there. Our course is located across the street from what’s known as the Big House. Weekly during the season, it boasts the largest crowds to watch a football game. Not this year. Games have been played, miserably, but played nonetheless in front of empty seats. Eerie yet fitting.

My friend, author Chester Elton, regularly posts pictures of things he’s grateful for and asks us to chime in. Golf with friends has been a particular joy this year. The camaraderie and good cheer (some liquid even) have meant much to me. It has been an affirmation that despite the world turned upside down, somethings have remained “green side up.” And I am grateful.

Maybe I will go out a time or two in December. (We in Michigan play when it is 40 degrees.) Yet emotionally, the time spent on the course for 2020 seems over. And it may be the only thing I miss about this wretched year.

John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator, executive coach and author of 14 books. Top 50 leadership expert

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