Posted on 1st June, 2020 Source: Brad Ziemer, Guest Contributor

Golf has become my COVID-19 crutch and I don’t think I am alone.

Anyone who has tried to get a tee time recently knows that many British Columbians are using the golf course as a refuge of sorts during this pandemic.

I am not sure I have ever appreciated golf more than I have these past couple of months. The game has allowed me to escape outside into the fresh air, get some exercise and spend time -- at a distance, of course -- with friends.

I am proud of the way the golf industry and we golfers have done the little things to make the game safe during these uncertain times.

Let’s face it, putting with the flagstick in to a shallow cup is hardly a hardship. It doesn’t bother me that with rakes removed, sand traps aren’t all perfectly manicured. And I can certainly live without ball-washers on every tee.

We get to play golf and in these stressful times that has been something of a godsend.

I like to think that in some ways the golf industry may emerge from this pandemic with a brighter future. Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 has hardly been a panacea for the industry. It faces major challenges with food and beverage and retail operations only now beginning to be re-introduced at most courses. The wedding business, which is huge for many clubs, is still on hold.

But the industry’s core business -- golf -- is showing signs of a resurgence. Some will say courses have been busy because so many other recreational options have been closed. There’s certainly some truth to that, but I believe there is an opportunity of sorts for the golf industry as we hopefully put this pandemic behind us.

Many regular golfers, like me, have been playing more than ever during these crazy times. More importantly, those who in the past have played only a couple of times a year are now playing more often. And some who have never played this wonderful game are giving it a try.

That, ultimately, is good for the game and the industry needs to try and capitalize on that momentum.

For the foreseeable future, many of us won’t be traveling the way we once did. We will be staying closer to home and looking for things to do. This may be an opportunity for private clubs to attract new members.

I also hope golf clubs use this time to bolster their junior golf programs. Lots of kids are going to be looking for something to do this summer. Many team sports and summer camps have been cut back or cancelled all together. Let’s get more kids on the golf course.

Finally, chances are that the reins will be loosened a little sometime this month and we British Columbians will be encouraged to travel our province this summer and support our hard-hit tourism industry.

Don’t forget to pack your golf clubs. We are blessed with so many good golf courses in every area of this province. So as Dr. Bonnie Henry likes to say, ‘be kind, be calm, be safe’ . . .and make lots of birdies.

Brad Ziemer covered the B.C. golf scene for the Vancouver Sun for nearly 25 years. He is a past recipient of Golf Canada’s Distinguished Service Award and the PGA of British Columbia’s Patron of the Year award.

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