As of this writing, the United States is approaching the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Much has changed: a variety of vaccines are available to citizens as young as five years old, along with boosters and further aid. At the same time, much remains the same: COVID variants continue to evolve and infect large swaths of the population.
Even after all this time, COVID safety on the golf course (and mini-golf course) is an imperative for all players. We must all do our part to combat the spread of the disease. We will do our part by providing some advice for keeping yourself and others safe. If you really cannot stay home or do not want to golf alone, read on.
Practice Basic Safety Measures
We should all know the drill by now. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have consistently recommended staying six feet apart and wearing face masks when one is around other people. The masks should cover your mouth and nostrils, so they can filter air that enters and exits these orifices.
It is true that outdoor activities safer than indoor ones. Exhaled particles disperse more rapidly in the open air. Even so, masking and social distancing are the most basic things one can do to increase COVID safety on the golf course. You have been doing this for years now. Keep doing it, even while outside.
Quarantine Whenever Necessary
We tend to be more cautious lately about any sniffle, sneeze, cough, or runny nose they experience. The subtlest potential symptom sends many people racing to get tested. If you are waiting for test results, or if you see any possibility that you might have COVID-19, cancel your golf plans. Avoid seeing others until you get a negative result.
Moreover, do not look for excuses to go through with plans anyway. It does not matter if you are asymptomatic after a positive test. You still carry the virus. It does not matter if you believe yourself healthy enough to weather anything that may come your way. Just by being in public, you could spread disease to people who are more vulnerable.
Don’t Sink the Ball
The whole point of golf is to hit the ball into the hole. What comes next after scoring? You reach your hand into the hole, brushing against the same plastic walls that countless other hands have touched. With such an easily transmissible disease running rampant all over the country, this suddenly does not seem entirely safe.
Many golf courses and institutions now encourage a radical change to the rules. Instead of plunking the ball into the hole, players are urged to stop inches away, pick up their stuff, and move on. These are desperate times, so we advise you to give this approach a try for now.
Limit Person-to-Person Interaction
Your fellow golf players are not the only people you will see at your local golf or mini-golf course. These businesses employ plenty of staff. Usually, you would approach a worker to pay for admission, equipment, or golf cart rentals. Then there are other services on the premises, like restaurants.
In these times, it is best to be near as few people as possible. Many courses have transitioned to taking payments online or over the phone for this very reason. Instead of eating at the restaurant, get your food to go or just make something at home.
On that note, part of the appeal of the golf course is to socialize with fellow members. Socialization has been hit hard lately. It may be best to say hello from afar and head home when you are done. You can always call your true friends via phone or video.
Walk If Possible
Golf carts have long been the best way to get around sprawling fairways. Golf courses allow guests to rent them out for their convenience. This arrangement is less convenient during a pandemic, where contagious disease can easily spread from one rider to the next.
Check your local golf course’s policies regarding carts. Are they even letting people rent them? Do they sanitize a cart before someone else can take it out? If you are concerned about sharing a cart at all and can walk without issue, go on foot instead. Instead of risking your health, you could actually improve it with the exercise.
Get Your Own Mini Golf Gear
Golfers are accustomed to using their own clubs, balls, tees, and other tools. Mini-golf fanatics usually rent equipment owned by the course itself. The clubs and balls they use may have already been passed through many hands. Even if you frequent businesses that take sanitization seriously, you may still get queasy.
If you treat mini-golf as more than just an occasional pastime, investing in personal mini-golf sets may be wise. You can rest assured that the only germs on the balls you tap and the clubs you grip are yours. On that note, refrain from sharing with others.
Make Safety on the Golf Course a Priority
Perhaps the greatest takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic is that risk alone is not the greatest influence on one’s risk prevention measures. More powerful still is the opinions, and especially the actions, of one’s peers. If most people in a group are lax on safety measures, the rest are likely to be more reckless as well.
It can go the other way around, too. If one treats it seriously, others are more likely to do the same. Anyone who cares about COVID safety on the golf course, or in any other part of their life, must lead by example. As abstract as the risk of COVID may seem, the danger is all too real.
We do not wear masks, socially distance, quarantine, and avoid crowded conditions because we enjoy it. We do it because we have a sense of duty to our fellow human beings. If this collection of tips encourages that sense of duty in even one person, we will be content. Even one person, in their own way, can save lives and make things easier for others in this trying time.