Golfing during the time of the Coronavirus
The Covid-19 variety,
I’ve never felt better.
Social distancing works! Since
the Covid-19 lockdown went into place, I haven’t had so much as a sniffle. During the normal course of events, I might
reasonably expect to suffer through any number of mild respiratory ailments,
lasting from a day or two to a week or two.
But not this time around! I
imagine all the hand-washing and not touching my face helped too.
I wouldn’t expect to catch anything at the golf course
anyway, since, well it’s a non-contact sport to begin
with. Yeah, I guess you could catch
something in the clubhouse, but usually when people feel crappy they don’t want
to play golf anyway. Be that as it may,
our golf courses, like many (most?) across the country were closed for a month. When they re-opened, it was with most of the
precautions they had started to put into place already, such as plugs in the
holes so you don’t have to reach in to retrieve your ball, warnings not to pull
the flag when putting, no rakes in the sand traps, only one rider per cart, yada, yada.
They’ve done away with tournaments with shotgun starts, so
people aren’t clustering around the clubhouse at the start and end of the
tournament. For awhile, they had the
clubhouse completely locked up, and you had to check in via
telephone. They’ve also spaced start
times by 12 minutes instead of the customary 8 (I guess to space foursomes out
by 300 yards instead of just 200?). This
last part puzzles me because that hurts their revenue by a third. They finally have started to run the
refreshment cart again.
Golf on TV is either a) boring because no tour has been
operating until now, or 2) thrilling because they’ve only been showing the most
exciting rounds over the last 50 years.
You pick… Did any of you watch
the exhibition match with Tiger and Peyton Manning versus Phil and Tom
Brady? Good fun. Peyton and Tom are actually pretty good (they
got three a side from Tiger and Phil), and everybody
As an old fat man, I realize that I’m in the targeted
demographic for this disease. 83% of the
fatalities from Covid 19 happen to people over 65. And it’s male:female by about 60:40. So I do want to be on the record as being
grateful for everything the country has done to keep me alive. In retrospect, giving everybody involved
credit for having good intentions, I think the
shutdown was the wrong thing to do. More
importantly, when the next “wave” of cases and fatalities comes around in the
fall (which, while not inevitable, is certainly probable), we should NOT shut
down again. We know a lot more about
this particular disease than we did when it first hit, and we can certainly
apply those lessons to improve safety without shutting off all economic
activity. In particular:
Schools should stay open. Fatalities among children are pretty low,
probably not much worse than ordinary flu.
Old people are especially susceptible, so
nursing homes are ground zero for fatalities, and extra care needs to be taken
there (perhaps even lockdowns).
Old people like me who are in our own homes can
self isolate to our heart’s content, based on our overall health and
Certain work environments have proven to be
dangerous (like meat packing plants), where crowding drives contagion. Whatever steps they’ve already taken there
need to be continued, and improved upon if possible.
Gatherings of large numbers of people indoors
are problematic – go at your own risk!
Restaurants and bars are going to be more dangerous than golf courses,
at least for people my age. On the other
hand, I don’t think it’s necessary to tell young healthy people to stay away,
nor do I think it’s right to deny the various people
in the hospitality industry the right to earn a living.
Airlines and cruise ships have long been sources
of conventional infections. It would be
nice if they can find more ways to improve hygiene. But again, let the market decide. Maybe us old folks
don’t want to travel as much…
Outdoor activities seem to be largely immune –
especially where direct sunlight is involved.
I’m not sure I want to be in a football stadium with 80,000 people, but
maybe that’s just me. Certainly there’s
no need to label your backyard family patio parties as a “protest” to pacify
the local authorities.
While “work at home” seems to be rapidly
becoming a new normal, we need to remember that it’s only feasible for
50-60% of the workforce. Lots and lots
of jobs need to be done in person.
Golf courses should (obviously) stay open!
Meanwhile, they’re still trying to total up all the damage
that’s been done by the lockdown. Not
just the stock market, but lost jobs, adverse health outcomes from the medical
profession being shut down from elective procedures, domestic violence,
homelessness, depression/despair, lost businesses, civil liberties violations, …
the list goes on.
Can’t everything go back to normal once a vaccine is
developed? Maybe. “Corona virus” is a generic term for a class
of virus that’s been around forever.
Think “common cold”. We haven’t
found a cure for that yet. But, who
knows? The world is spending a gazillion
dollars on research, and maybe we’ll be successful. Looking back, the Spanish Flu from 1918
lasted ten years. Polio was around for a
long time before a vaccine was developed.
They were successful at finding a vaccine for the Hong Kong flu in 1968. Unfortunately, it was released despite some
adverse neurological effects in field trials which showed up in the general
population. So maybe… And remember:
It’s really hard to make a million of anything. And there’s north of 300 million people just
in this country. It might take a while.
In the meantime, life needs to go on. Those of us who are
perhaps more susceptible need to take more precautions. But I’ve come to the sad realization that I
can’t ask the whole country to shut down just to keep me alive.