COVID-19 Changes Golf Forever
By R.J. Smiley
With house arrest extending to the 48th day, the Psychic is restless. How many Master’s re-runs can a golfer watch? During this period of isolation the Psychic had discovered his old Bull’s Eye putter and one of the original Ping Anser. During the quarantine, he has learned the breaks on the living room carpet from every angle.
“How can I putt so good on the carpet and so poorly when I play?”
As the brilliant spring sun warms the den through the picture window and the buds on the trees are about to burst, the Psychic finds it inconceivable that the golf courses are still closed. His Facebook friends in Florida have posted pictures of putting with the flagstick in the hole. They have rediscovered walking the golf course with a pushcart or actually carrying a small golf bag. Bunkers, with no rakes. On line tee times and pre-paid green fees.
No pro shop access. Who would have thought? But the biggest change. No beer and banter after the round.
The Psychic ponders, “Which of the COVID-19 changes will become permanent? What will golf look like in one year? Five years?”
With the turban squarely on his balding head and the, now uncovered, crystal ball starting to glow, the Psychic leans forward over the small table and peers into the clearing mist.
The psychic flinches backward as the roar of several mighty engines cause the crystal ball to quiver. Like a huge flat screen TV, the Psychic sees a huge wooden airplane, the length of a short par-3 with eight engines. As the engine sound intensives, almost in slow motion the plane lifts off the water. The quick flight takes less than a minute. As the plane is secured to the dock, the Psychic recognizes the handsome young Howard Hughes, the brilliant aeronautical engineer who created the Spruce Goose.
The Psychic watches bites of media coverage of Hughes, who lived in a hotel suite high above the Las Vegas strip. The man who conceived Las Vegas and ran with the Hollywood elite and died a recluse germaphobe. Within the brilliant sphere, the Psychic watches as Hughes refuses to shake hands. Hughes spent his later years isolated, believing that everything that other people touched was covered with lethal germs.
The Psychic draws back from the crystal ball and recalls his own self-quarantine. Wearing a hard-to-find N95 mask and surgical gloves each time he left the privacy of his home. Antiseptic spray, alcohol drops, allowing boxes and letters to sit for hours before touching them with bare hands and wiping gas pumps handles with sterile cloths.
People have a new mindset – germs and virus are everywhere. His mind is racing, the Psychic returns to the future looking inside the crystal ball.
Shaking hands will never return! The Psychic sees golfers meeting new players and greeting old friends with a nod of the head. A hole-in-one is acknowledged with an “air” elbow bump.
Golf car fleets will become single rider! The crystal ball runs a continuous video loop of single rider golf transportation. Golf boards of various sizes and configurations. Golf motorcycles with large soft turf friendly tires. Segway-like transports equipped with smart caddie technology to provide golfers club selection information and video record golf shots. A reincarnation of the, popular in the 60s, Golf Pony, a 3-wheeled trike like golf cart.
Sand bunkers will become a true hazard! Bunker rakes will totally vanish. No golfer wants to touch a bunker rake that (who knows who has touched) is covered with germs. The crystal ball shows sand bunkers as a “true raw un-kept hazard” where escape is the number one goal. Periodic maintenance of bunkers is done to keep sand soft.
Flagsticks and cup liners become a one-piece unit! Flagsticks are not removable. Flagsticks will include a ball removal device. No reason to ever touch a flagstick!
Paper scorecards and golf pencils will vanish! Digital scorecards will download automatically onto cell phones and will replace paper and pencil. These digital scorecards will include the player’s name and handicap. Wagers and results will be real time as scores are posted after each hole. Bluetooth technology will instantly post tournament scores. Results will be posted as the final putt drops. No need to enter the clubhouse.
With a sigh, the Psychic removes his turban and covers the crystal ball.
As he sips an Arnold Palmer, with only a little vodka, he realizes: the cup and ball will be the same size. Clubs will continue to be tweaked annually, mostly for marketing purposes. But, all in all, golf will remain the same!