Us golfers have always been different. Rocking up to Lidl in a pair of plus-fours, eyes scanning the shelves under a Titleist visor, crouching down to read the expiration date on a packet of ham from four different angles, it’s no wonder we get the odd stare. Golfers are a rare breed, as content to do things alone as with others. And so, it’s no surprise then that this ol’ pandemic craic has been treated much the same.
‘Restrictions? They don’t apply to us! We play golf in the open air. Social distancing? Just play with me. I’ve discovered more new land playing golf than Columbus.’
Indeed, since whispers of this deadly disease left Chinese shores, golfers have always been immune. When Leo Varadkar suggested gatherings of no more than four were permitted, the swingers hopped on it like a rules infringement spotted from four fairways over.
‘One of us,’ they thought until the GUI and ILGU burst the bubble by towing the Government line.
‘What do you mean golf’s not essential? You obviously haven’t met my wife.’
As part of his inauguration speech in 1961, US President John F. Kennedy famously said, “ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
In a similar plea, our Taoiseach issued a further rallying cry to alleviate pressure on Ireland’s overstretched healthcare workers, asking boldly of the nation:
“Please, stay at home if at all possible.”
Roganstown and Swords Golf Clubs couldn’t even manage that.
Players from Mullingar to Mozambique were said to have arrived for a game but it wasn’t long before the gig was up there too – circumstances had changed and golf was off the menu. That was until a household name overnight, Professor Sam McConkey relit the fire under the numbed arse cheeks of the golfing populace.
Speaking to the Irish Times, the Head of the Royal College of Surgeons said, “Golf is played outside in the open air, and almost always two metres away from other players.
“So, my opinion is that playing golf, even two or four players from different houses together, could be done relatively safely if sick people and their contacts stay away, people come dressed and do not use changing rooms, gyms or the clubhouse facilities. A national guidance plan is the best way forward, not each club deciding itself.”
‘I’ve always said that Sam McConkey knows his stuff. Some common sense at last.’
Give us golfers an inch and we’ll take a mile. This whole saga has turned into a giant road-trip where golfers are in the backseat of the car like impatient children constantly nagging, ‘are we there yet, are we there yet?’ while Varadkar and Simon Harris are front and centre looking at a SAT-NAV that has no clue where it’s going.
There seems to be a sense of misled confidence doing the rounds these days that we’re through the worst of it. I blame the sun – no, not the newspaper, though I’m sure they’ve done something – but the great weather that’s made it harder to complain than usual throughout all this.
Voices like McConkey’s spread an air of hope and there’s nothing wrong with that but we have to be real too. Supposedly the PGA Tour are about to announce a restart date of June 11th for competitive play to recommence. But America’s a country being led through this pandemic by an absolute cabbage more concerned with his business portfolio sinking than the health of his nation’s people, so good luck with that Jay Monahan. Although Graeme McDowell says its realistic and he loves a cold beer so what do I know?
Well, one thing I know is that I picked up the Irish Times this morning and the front page reads 12,547 total cases, 1,068 of which are new with 444 deaths while there’s over 2,000 cases in Northern Ireland and a further 140 deaths.
I bought that paper this morning for my cocooning parents who I’ve been battening down the hatches with since Government restrictions were introduced. It’s for their ilk, the 70’s and over who have been most impacted by restrictions and who are most at risk should they contract the disease, that we continue to do what the Government asks of us and not what the devil on our shoulders would love us to do.
McConkey suggested that in order to give golf the green light “one could restrict attendance to those less than 20 or [up to]50 years of age, depending on what level of risk you are willing to take,” but then what about those outside that bracket that a lot of us are coming home to after we get our fairway fix?
I’m not afraid of coronavirus. Famous last words but if I get it, I think I’ll be grand. However, if I was to pass it on to my parents… Well it reminds me of one of my favourite films, Braveheart. With the arrows of the English army raining down on William Wallace’s outnumbered Scottish forces, the crazy Irishman, Stephen, turns to Wallace on the front line and says, “The Lord tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he’s pretty sure you’re f**ked.”
I don’t want to be Stephen.