From The Inbox

Golf vs. groceries: Why bag one and not the other?

Strolling the fairways during the coronavirus pandemic is much safer than running the grocery-aisle gantlet, reader contends, so keep the courses open and watch as golfers do the right thing

I played and practiced for more than four hours in Arkansas in 87-degree sunshine. I didn’t come within 10 feet of anyone (“Play golf or not? Hawk & Purk take sides,” March 27).

Afterwards, I got groceries and passed people who were too close in every aisle.

The term “completely safe” regarding the coronavirus pandemic was used in a previous letter to Morning Read. Nothing is 100 percent, but being outside playing golf all afternoon versus being inside while buying food for 20 minutes is 100 times safer.

You can’t get me to join this “bad optics” guilt trip. We don’t have to have food and beverage at the golf course, and push carts are showing up everywhere. Golfers will do the right thing if the courses are allowed to do the right thing, and that is staying open.

Al Fiscus
Searcy, Ark.

Take time off from golf and save a life
It's nice to read Mike Purkey, in his argument in favor of continuing to play golf, that his "big group" is practicing social distancing while at the same time using an elbow bump and presumably riding in a cart (“Play golf or not? Hawk & Purk take sides,” March 27). “Many more people are walking,” Purkey wrote.

I'm not sure how it happened, but our country has grown so arrogant that people can't see fault in this type of behavior. Filming this group play a few holes would provide valuable video footage to use in a public-service announcement later this summer when someone needs to explain how we weren't able to slow this virus quickly enough to open courses (and schools, parks, stores, etc.) back up.

In case you are wondering, no, I'm not some conspiracy nut or doomsday preacher. I’m just someone curious as to how someone can't take a month or two off from the golf course literally to save someone's life.

Tim Ward
Palatine, Ill.

Staying indoors carries its own health risk
John Hawkins says we shouldn't play golf because everyone is in this for the common good (“Play golf or not? Hawk & Purk take sides,” March 27). Here in North Carolina, most metropolitan counties are under "stay at home" orders, but they generally exempt outdoor activities such as running, biking, walking the dog and golf.

Golf can be played safely, and it is a way for people to obtain exercise and strengthen their immune systems by being outdoors.

It would be unwise, especially as the weather improves, to tell everyone to stay indoors for days and weeks on end, as it would make them less healthy. My club has taken extensive steps to minimize contact between people, and common touch points. Many of us walk the course, which makes distancing even easier, and the club now limits riders in carts to one player per cart. I have played recently without getting within 10 feet of anyone else, and without touching anything that someone else has touched. I carry alcohol wipes in my bag, just in case.

That is not to say that the club is wide open for business. The pool, health center and dining room are closed; there is no beverage service; and our pro shop is limited to one person at a time entering, with no cash transactions. We all miss the social aspects of the game, especially grabbing a drink and bite to eat afterwards. But for some of our group, notably the older men who live alone, the opportunity to exercise and socialize at a distance afforded by golf is their only respite from the mental rigors of social isolation as they face their own mortality alone.

Ken Bass
Raleigh, N.C.

A solution from Houston
For the courses that have remained open, elevate the cup 2 inches so you just have to hit it, and no pulling the flag. The bunkers are a free drop, so no raking. Wait just off the green and putt in sequence. Allow only push carts, so that there are no powered carts to clean or for golfers to sit next to each other (“Play golf or not? Hawk & Purk take sides,” March 27).

My concern then shifts to the grounds crew and their safety. Once out on the course, they seem to work independently.

The ranges could stay open, as well. The mats are sufficiently spaced, and the ball cart is a solo effort.

Dave Nickerson

One of life’s essential nutrients: golf
First of all, is golf essential? No, it is not; that is, to non-golfers. But to the rest of us, it is akin to breathing (“Play golf or not? Hawk & Purk take sides,” March 27).

That aside, I think a lot depends on geography; that is, where you live and the scope of the spread of the coronavirus in your area. John Hawkins’ opinion was extreme, on the order of "the sky is falling.” He contends, essentially, that because coronavirus exists in the U.S., everything everywhere should be shut down.

I am in no way diminishing the potential danger of the virus, but each situation must be evaluated on its own. For example, I live in the county just north of Tampa, Fla., and I had to drive to see a client in south Florida. If you look at a map of the COVID-19 infections, you will see that southeast Florida (Miami-Dade and Broward counties, especially) is a hot spot. But I was headed to farm country, in a county that had no reported coronavirus cases yet.

Nonetheless, I am rethinking how and when I play golf locally. I've decided not to play in my two leagues, not because of contact on the course, but rather potential contact before and after the round, what with everyone milling around the clubhouse. I might just go to the driving range, or maybe play a round walking rather than riding outside of league hours, as my contact with other people would be minimal; no more than going to the grocery store.

Mark Liquorman
Land O' Lakes, Fla.

Growing restless while growing vegetables
There has been glorious spring weather here since we were confined to our homes. The decision has been made that playing golf, however carefully, simply adds to the probability of transmitting the coronavirus disease, so gardening is getting the energy I would have spent playing.

A word about John O'Leary (“2-time European Tour winner John O’Leary dies,” March 27). I remember seeing him at a tournament in the early 1970s, resplendent in a pair of trousers that had one leg black to the waistband and the other leg white. He also sported a huge afro haircut. Where are those characters now?

Meanwhile, I am planning my homemade golf net: two large bedsheets draped over the rafters in the garage and a hairy mat to simulate the turf. It should keep me in form for a quick restart, if I can avoid being wiped out by a rebound.

Terry Wall
Winchester, England

Sure, Chamblee is outspoken, but would you prefer CBS?
I read the article in which Brandel Chamblee apologized to the PGA of America and others for a poor choice of words in his criticism of many golf instructors (“Brandel Chamblee apologizes for slap at teaching pros,” March 27). The question now is, will the PGA accept the apology or continue to step on Chamblee, who can be outspoken on many subjects?

I agree with his general remarks about golf teachers. Despite their teachings, handicaps have failed to drop, and that seems to be a good measuring stick for the top 50 and others’ ineffectiveness.

Chamblee is controversial, but refreshingly so. When one thinks of how hopelessly bland CBS’ golf coverage is now, NBC’s Chamblee is needed to speak up and speak out. Hopefully, the PGA forgives him, but time, and Golf Channel exposure, will tell.

Lou Body IV
Jacksonville, Fla.

An instructive gentleman
Thank you, John Fischer, for writing the article about Paul Runyan and the 1938 PGA Championship (“In match play, it’s anybody’s game,” March 25).

In the early 1980s, I attended one of the first Golf Digest instruction schools. Runyan was one of our short-game instructors. I learned so much from him. I just loved listening to him, and he was such a gentleman.

One of the things I remember best, besides the putting and chipping technique, had nothing to do with teaching, though. He was on the range one evening with a bucket of balls and a high-lofted wood. I would bet a 5, but in those days, most likely a 4. Wood, not metal. I watched the smoothest, sweetest, repeatable swing I’d ever seen. He hit ball after ball into an area the size of a hula hoop. When I saw that, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.

Thanks to Runyan and the other instructors, including the late Jim Flick, I left that school inspired and eager to be better. By the end of the summer, I had gone from a 12 handicap to under a 3 and made my goal of qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Thanks for bringing this article and Runyan to light.

Kathy Wentworth
Portland, Ore.

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