The perfect social distancing sport

 By James Laverty 

For many people, the last few weeks of social distancing have meant binging seasons of Netflix shows in single sittings, clutching video game controllers for hours on end, or exploring hobbies they hadn’t had time for in the past.  

Senior Ethan Fischer has made the most of his free time, playing as much golf as possible. Photo credits: James Laverty

But for golfers, the coronavirus pandemic has provided them with more free time to spend on the course. That’s because across the country, golf is one activity that meets social distancing standards.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order and shutdown of non-essential businesses exempts golf courses. That means the Lexington Country Club remains open. But golfers must stay out of the clubhouses.

During the school year, if I’m lucky, I play up to three times in a week. Over the past two weeks, I’ve played every day, sometimes twice a day.   

“With the entire sports world on lockdown indefinitely, it’s nice to have the ability to still go out and play,” said Colin Whitmore, a Washington and Lee University senior and club member.   

“This is the most golf I’ve ever played in my life,” said William Borst, a Washington and Lee senior. “My scores have started to go down a bit with the amount I’ve been playing. 

Not everything is normal at the golf course. Members cannot share golf carts. 

After every round, the country club’s staff disinfect every cart. 

“I think the club has definitely done its part to remain sanitary and safe,” Whitmore said. 

Normally the club closes once a week on Mondays for maintenance. It now closes Mondays and Tuesdays to allow for additional cleaning. 

Golfers also don’t need to reach into the holes to retrieve the balls. The club has installed pool noodles into the cups to keep the ball from falling into the hole. 

Golfers are permitted to have only one person in each cart.

Lots of people in Lexington have had the same idea and headed to the club. At times, rounds at the course have taken longer than usual.  

One staff member told me that it’s the busiest the course has ever been. 

To comply with social distancing guidelines, the restaurant and bar area has been closed. But people can order food via the club’s mobile app or by speaking to one of the club employees. It is then brought to them on the patio area. 

Golfers may prefer to be watching the Masters tournament, which was supposed to start on April 9. If there’s any solace, they’ve had more time to play the game they love, even in a crisis.