Five Ways the Coronavirus Will Change Golf

Nearly 50 percent of golf courses across America are open – a number that is growing – but all of us have seen disruption to the normal pattern of the spring season (an extraordinarily small inconvenience in the big scheme of things).

Quarantine, lockdown, isolation, whatever you want to call it, has provided time for reflection and made us more appreciative of the little things, a category golf falls into. Here are five ways the COVID-19 pandemic could change the game or our approach to it (FWIW, these aren’t Myrtle Beach specific changes).

— Appreciate the opportunity to play. Many of us have taken for granted a weekend tee time or the chance to play nine in the evening after work. Be thankful we play an outdoor game that provides some exercise and the ability to enjoy fresh air, traits that may lead some people back to the sport.

— Don’t be surprised if some of the measures implemented to keep players safe continue after the threat from the virus begins to recede. Measures that reduce the spread of any illness are a good thing and many of them – mobile check-in and no starter tickets, come immediately to mind – have no impact on your experience.

— The USGA’s 2018 decision to allow players to leave the flagstick in has proven to be prescient, and I’d expect the number of players who leave the stick in to grow exponentially (a word we’ve all become much more familiar with!). Leaving the flag in should help modestly improve pace of play, in addition to providing a more sterile environment.

— Expect online tee time bookings to accelerate as we emerge from the pandemic. Sure, people booked online in a pre-Corona world, but that number was small relative to the other goods and services. Players are now increasingly booking online to reduce contact in the clubhouse and that trend will continue to grow for reasons that often have nothing to do with the virus.

— Greater appreciation for the chance to play should lead to less frustration on the course. In light of what the nation is going through, a three-putt from 15 feet isn’t really that big a deal.