Can Golf Learn From Covid-19?

The last few months have been downright awful. But there is some good to come of all this misery; we’ve learnt to be more compassionate, more tolerant and more patient, and I have no doubt that will only be positive for the game of golf.

By Charlotte Ibbetson

I’m sat looking out of my window at a beautiful spring day, dreaming about getting back out on the golf course again.

Sound familiar?

I’ve only managed to squeeze in a handful of games since moving back to the UK in November – weather and work being my two main excuses.

But just before Covid-19 struck, I made a pact with myself that I was going to get back into the game properly; play and practice every week, enter a few tournaments and let the bug bite me again.

Don’t get me wrong, I realise that the world has much bigger problems than not being able to play golf at the moment, and I am immensely grateful for the health of my friends and family. But I couldn’t help but feel a bit deflated when golf courses closed last week – what will come of the clubs now that no one is playing, no one is spending money at them? Will they even survive?

Almost a week later though, and I’ve changed my opinion totally: I think Covid-19 could actually be good for golf.

In the past, we’ve received countless letters from women who have felt bullied or unwelcome at golf clubs. And we’ve even written about it on more than one occasion – that feeling that the game just can’t shake this antiquated air of exclusivity (and I’m sure it’s not just women who have felt that).

Could Covid-19 be the catalyst for change?

Well, the one good thing to come from all of this is how it’s changed our behaviour towards one another; people help each other, are more compassionate, more patient and more tolerant of each other. These are all behaviours that would undoubtedly make golf clubs nicer, more welcoming places to spend time at.

And how many times during this period of isolation have you seen families exercising together; cycling, running and walking, appreciating the time we all get to spend together again. How great would it be if golf clubs could foster that spirit and make their clubhouses and courses truly family-friendly? How many more people would we attract to the game?

Perhaps if we all extend our newfound kindness, we’ll change the game of golf for good. We could attract new members, help them feel settled and make the golf club a place that people really want to spend time at. Our golf clubs would thrive, and the game would too.

Or if we continue to be more tolerant, we’d never have to debate whether men and women should be allowed to play in the same competitions or sit on the same committee – it would just be the norm. We wouldn’t care about playing golf with a beginner or a higher handicapper, we’d just get on with it and enjoy our games (exactly as we should be doing now, but that’s a debate for another day!).

When the world eventually returns to some sort of normality, golf clubs – and the game of golf in general – will need as much of our support as possible. Things will be different. The outbreak of Coronavirus has coincided with a lot of golf clubs’ renewal periods, and they’ll have been hit really hard financially. And that’s before we even mention our clubs’ professionals, who are predominantly self-employed and were undoubtedly having a hard time before this even started.

If we can leverage what we’ve learnt during this pandemic, golf clubs won’t only survive, they will thrive. Let’s give it a chance.


Naga Munchetty

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