I’d be lying if I said there were many days I looked out at the weather lately and said, ‘I’d love a game of golf’. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like the option.
I write this as rumours abound of a six-week extension to this current six-week lockdown, straining my eyes out my window to distant clouds without silver linings. I’d consider myself an optimist, still dreaming of becoming a professional footballer at thirty, but even the eternal optimists would struggle to see light through the dark clouds of Ireland these days.
Yeah, it’s getting to me, this whole lockdown craic. A living with covid plan where we hide in the wardrobe and hope it goes away. I wasn’t like this almost a year ago when the surge was coming. Golf was the last thing on my mind. We could do without it for the sake of others. We were all united against a common enemy. Clapping on the side of the street, waving at neighbours you’d – almost – have in for tea if only the Government would let you.
A year is not an insignificant amount of time in anyone’s life and given how the people have largely responded to all that’s been asked of them, you would’ve hoped for more in return. If anything, twelve months later and we’re worse off. Before we know it we’ll be out the other side of summer and staring into flu season. Again. That’s the grim reality, but even small exceptions to this covid plan could make a huge difference to people’s mental outlook.
When lockdowns first hit, I found the cry of the golf community unsavoury on the ear. It smacked of entitlement; enraged golfers swinging their nine irons as front-line workers in hazmat suits battled the unknown.
In May, that all changed for me. When golf got the green light to resume, our three-ball may as well have had the whole course to ourselves such was the serenity. There wasn’t a patch of land in the country so sparsely populated. We booked online, tee-times well-spaced, straight from our car to the first tee, clubhouses closed, no rakes in the bunkers, no touching of flags, water hazards filled with hand sanitiser. And not only was it safe but for a large chunk of the Irish population, it was necessary. That was evident, to borrow a word from Leo’s first speech, in the surge of fresh faces to the game. People needed an outlet more than ever and golf was one of the few they could turn to.
At the time it was seen as a privilege to be invited back to play while so many other sports waited in the wings but if we’re to be living with this virus for a number of years, then exceptions have to be made. A one rule fits all mentality is narrow minded, unimaginative, and unfair. Certain sports lend themselves to social distancing. Fortunately, golf is one of them.
Eleven months on and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask why golf courses remain closed having repeatedly proven themselves safe amid this pandemic? Eleven months on and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to question why the Government would lump the sport in with so many others without explanation? Eleven months on and I start wondering what all the sacrifice was for? So many false peaks on this climb out of covid. So much life lost in our efforts to preserve it.