Despite their best intentions, golfers simply can’t be assured of a coronavirus-free experience, reader contends
Reader Mark Harman references a 2013 research article and opines that playing golf is completely safe (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 25). Should I be anticipating his being co-opted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or President Donald Trump for COVID-19 guidance?
Despite the eloquence of Harman's message, it is unclear to me how a golf course is a safe environment during the coronavirus pandemic. Did I miss the testing of participants and course attendants for the virus, to minimize the likelihood of transmission? Did I miss the reference to ensuring social distancing before (travel to the course), during (separate carts) and after a game of golf? Would hand washing or disinfectant stations be available at all tees?
Also, unless he is playing with individuals of widely divergent height, most golfers will be grabbing the flagstick in roughly the same area. In addition to being a virology expert, he apparently is a statistician who is applying the principle of randomization to the management of COVID-19 risk why playing golf.
The only shortsightedness I see is the suggestion that an activity that discourages social isolation (distancing guidelines have not proved to be enough to ensure safety) is misguided and the criticism of government officials for exercising caution in these dire times.
Oak Bluff, Manitoba
Reader disputes ultraviolet-light theory
I would like to correct an erroneous piece of information in reader Mark Harman's letter (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 25).
The 254 nanometers of ultraviolet light that he references pertains to the wavelength of UV, not the energy. 254 nm UV radiation seems to be the most effective in killing viruses and bacteria (by disrupting RNA and DNA in the pathogen). A wavelength of 280 nm (UVA and UVB) would be less effective in killing pathogens. The sun, of course, produces radiation of all different wavelengths, but the earth’s ozone layer absorbs most of the UV radiation.
Wearing a mask to prevent droplet transmission, and wearing gloves on both hands (and wiping them down frequently with hand sanitizer) likely would be the best preventive measures. Soap should be added to the ball washers, as soap destroys the coronavirus' outer lipid layer. Inverting the cup in the hole also obviates the need to reach into the cup for one's ball.
In the end, however, one cannot guarantee that playing golf in this time of COVID-19 can be “completely safe.”
(Paik is a cardiologist.)
Now that’s using the ol’ noodle
Reader Mark Harman challenged leaving the flagstick in the hole because removing the ball requires touching the flagstick by every golfer in the same place (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 25).
Harman must not have seen the use of swimming-pool noodles cut into short pieces and placed in the hole, with the flagstick centered in the hole in the noodle. The ball just barely falls onto the top of the noodle, and only part of the ball lies below the top of the hole, making it easy to lift out using a thumb and forefinger without touching the flagstick.
Courses in Myrtle Beach, S.C., are using this technique, and it works well.
Tough times at Rancho Bernardo
If I had written to Morning Read on Wednesday, I would have said that people at my club, The Country Club of Rancho Bernardo in San Diego, were trying their best to continue to play when possible during the coronavirus pandemic, using social distancing, walking and leaving rakes and pins alone. The food and beverage service was forced to close, but at least we could get fresh air and exercise.
As of Thursday, all of California has been directed to shelter in place, so there will be no more golf.
We are collecting funds for our furloughed staff, and praying that things get back to normal before it becomes impossible to recover. LPGA rookie Haley Moore is a member of our club, and she is playing on the Cactus Tour in Buckeye, Ariz., this weekend, but it will surely be her last opportunity until this pandemic is over.
Let’s hope that all clubs and courses can weather this unprecedented storm.
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