Unlike many other parts of the country, the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t that restrictive where we live in Southern Utah. We were not quarantined at any time, just reminded to social distance, wear our masks and avoid anyone who may have symptoms of the virus.
We have taken those precautions and have been able to sit down at restaurants and eat, shop, and go about our normal lives.
Everyone hates wearing a mask. However, one area where masks weren’t required was on the golf course. I try to play once a week, although that changes with the weather. It can be chilly during the winter months and very hot during the summer in St. George.
The area is attractive to people from northern climates because of the warmer weather, which allows golfing nearly year-round.
Golf has attracted thousands of new golfers because it is one of the few things they can do without wearing a mask or without having to adhere to the six-foot (in most cases) distance rules. Not since the Tiger Woods explosion of interest a couple of decades ago, has golf seen such an increase in NEW golfers, young and old.
Golf is one of the few businesses that has survived, even profited, from the COVID-19 pandemic. Golf equipment sales had one of the best years in decades as well.
Living here, there are a dozen courses within minutes of my home. I haven’t had a chance to play all of them, mainly because of the cost or because they are private courses. But there are some very nice public courses to play.
The golf courses did take several precautions with the pandemic. Masks were required in the clubhouse, ball washers were covered or taken out and rakes in the traps were removed. The flags on the greens used a foam ring in the cup so golfers didn’t have to remove the flag to retrieve their ball. These steps were taken to minimize any contamination or spread of the virus.
My good friend Billy and I play together most of the time at a 9-hole city-owned course near us. He’s 20 years younger than me and hits his drives 20 yards farther. But, I tell him short and straight is better than long and lost. At the end of our rounds, we’re usually within a stroke or two of each other and the winner depends on who has a better day.
I used to play with my step-dad who was 20 years older than me back then. He used a 5 iron off the tee and down the fairway before chipping onto the green and putting. I would use my driver and, like Billy, it didn’t always go straight then. Again, at the end of the round, we were within a few strokes of each other.
Weather is always a factor in my golf plans. I tell people I shoot in the 70s. If it’s colder than that, I stay home. But I have been known to bundle up and play during the winter months, especially if the sun is shining.
There is a drawback to the pleasant weather, however. Because of the weather, this is ideal snowbird country, and courses in the area are usually very crowded during the cooler or snowy months elsewhere in the country. It’s February and I’ve had to make tee time reservations a week or two in advance at our favorite course, which is the busiest in the area. But come summertime, when it’s 105° outside, we can play almost any time because we’re the only two brave, or crazy enough, to play in those conditions.
A year ago, Billy and I joined the Utah Golf Association to establish a golf handicap and play in local tournaments. However, a month later, the pandemic hit and we only played in one tournament. Other tournaments were canceled because of the pandemic.
Because of the uncertainty of how things are going to be this summer with tournaments, we’re just going to concentrate on having a good time on the golf course.
The pandemic has affected everyone. But being able to escape to the golf course has been a great way to not worry about it, even for a few hours.
– Ryan from St. George, Utah, a FAR customer who is finding purpose in this new stage of his life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Finance of America Reverse (LLC).