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Golf during coronavirus

Ed Townsend - Columnist
Posted 5/14/20

Golf courses are reopening across New York State and the United States, but chances are, the course's operations are significantly different then what we did in the past.. Here's things to …

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Golf during coronavirus

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Golf courses are reopening across New York State and the United States, but chances are, the course's operations are significantly different then what we did in the past.. Here's things to remember.

We're into mid-May and businesses are reopening across the state as state and local governments relax COVID-19 restrictions.

It's taken some time for golf course operators to figure out how to operate in this new normal. But they are responding and reopening with modified operations and often pared-down staff. Governing bodies in the game just jointly announced a campaign that promotes safety protocols at facilities and responsible behavior by golfers.

We live in a new world in 2020. Your first trip back to the course may be a little startling, but at its core, we're still playing the same great game. By now, you should be pretty knowledgeable about social distancing guidelines and how they apply to golf. But here is a checklist of procedures that have been set up at area golf courses in Sullivan County.

1. Call ahead to book teetime

2. Tee Time intervals can vary.

3. Many courses get their fees paid by touch free transaction with credit/debit card only.

4. Most clubhouses remain closed and driving ranges are closed.

5. Always maintain social distancing.

6. Only one golfer per golf cart.

7. Do not touch the flagstick and no rakes in the traps.

8. Do not share golf equipment.

In some parts of the country golf courses have face mask requirements.

Some areas in California and Florida are requiring that golfers play the entire round with a cloth face mask for the time being. Other states and cities are asking that you wear them in common areas and on practice greens.

It is important to understand that businesses have the right to set rules they feel will keep their employees safe, and it is a customer's obligation to comply to them.

It's suggested at this time to carry your own bottled water and food as these are not yet available at local golf courses.

How are cups and flags being treated? Courses and states throughout the country have various policies on how they've decided to handle flags. In most places, courses are asking that you leave the flag in. You can expect one of three methods. Cup is raised an inch out of the ground, and balls are “holed” when they hit it. Pool noodles are inserted into the hole so the ball never goes fully in and it's easy to retrieve.

Now probably isn't the time to nitpick or bicker with rangers or the pro shop staff. As you return to your home course or try somewhere new, keep in mind this has been a trying time for all businesses, and your patience and acceptance as we strive to settle in to a new groove will be greatly appreciated. It appears most golfers have a profound sense of gratitude.

Keep an eye out for anything your golf course is doing to support furloughed staff or maintain operations. There is a lot of uncertainty of how unpaid bills will be dealt with later on in the year.

But most importantly we can all be a cheerleader of the facility's rules when we're on the property. It may seem like a weird time to be on the golf course, but we can all embrace what is hopefully a short blip in our golf lifetimes.

Get out and enjoy the game ... we are sure things will get better.

Ed's Outlook

Televised golf makes its return with TaylorMade Driving Relief, a $3 million charity skins match supported by United Health Group to raise money and awareness for organizations leading COVID-19 relief efforts, including the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation.

On Sunday, May 17 from Seminole Golf Club (Juno Beach, Fla.), TaylorMade Driving Relief will feature 2019 FedExCup champion and World No. 1 Rory McIlroy and with 20-time PGA TOUR winner Dustin Johnson, teaming up against two Oklahoma State University Alums in PGA TOUR superstar Rickie Fowler and 2019 first-time TOUR winner and 2019 NCAA National Champion Matthew Wolff.

Additionally, Farmers Insurance's $1 million pledge will back a birdies and eagle pool to benefit Off Their Plate, a charitable organization helping COVID healthcare workers and impacted frontline shift employees.

McIlroy, Johnson, Fowler and Wolff will donate their time for the 18-hole, two-man Skins competition, which will be broadcast by NBC, GOLF Channel, NBCSN, Sky Sports and other PGA TOUR global media partners. Free streaming will be available via PGA TOUR LIVE, GOLFPASS, GolfChannel.com and GOLFTV powered by PGA TOUR. The competition will follow strict social distancing guidelines and FDA-approved testing measures to ensure the health and safety of the golfers and production crew.

Sunday, May 17: TaylorMade Driving Relief: 2-6pm ET on NBC

Golf Tip

By Bob Menges

We are talking this week about wet and soggy golf course conditions and, if you are playing golf in these conditions, here are some tips for you to consider.

The temperature also has an effect on how far the ball will travel. With cool damp conditions and if you hit a 7- iron 150 yards in July....it might only carry 140 yards in early May. Also, you must remember that the ball is not going to roll or bounce so the shot you hit must be all carry.

Choose your club based on the conditions of the course. Another factor to consider is how much your feet are going to sink into the turf depending on how wet it is. I notice many golfers hitting what we call “fat” shots in early spring.

This happens when the club contacts the ground before the ball and sod build up between the ball and club, thus making the ball travel much less than you intended. One way to correct this is to select one club more and grip down slightly.

Your weight will make your body sink into the ground and be lower than normal conditions. This should help you make clean contact with the ball.

Anyone who has played golf in this area in May knows, another factor to deal with is the wind. When you are hitting shots into the wind make sure to use an extra club or two. The wind will knock the ball down and travel less than what you would normally hit that club. You may also try keeping the ball at a lower flight, cutting off your follow through, by slightly keeping your arms and hands lower.

If you are hitting with the wind, use less club as the wind will help the ball travel further.

When playing with a cross wind, try to adjust your aim slightly to allow for the wind to curve your ball in the same direction as the wind, whether it is left to right or right to left.

Above all try not to get frustrated during the rounds you play.

Robert Menges is the head golf professional at the Swan Lake Golf & Country Club, Mt. Hope Road, Swan Lake. He is available when the course opens in mid-May. If you have a question or subject you would like covered, he can be reached at 845-292-0323, 845-866-5567 or via email at bobmenges22@gmail.com.

Putting Tip

By Geoff Walsh

Reading the greens is a skill that is critical to becoming a good putter. Some players seem to have a natural ability to see the “break” but it also can be learned by a few simple observations.

First of all most greens slope from back to front so keep that in mind when checking your line. The general lay of land is easier to see from a distance than when standing on the green so check that out as you approach the green.

Especially in our area greens positioned on side hills have breaks that are much more than meets the eye. Good examples of that would be No. 9 and No. 18 at Tarry Brae.

Another factor that has an effect on the break will be large bodies of water or even streams that putts will always break towards. Morningside Lake and Echo Lake are perfect examples of that.

Once on the green I believe reading the putt from behind the ball is the most effective way to see the break. Some players read putts from all angles which for the most part I feel can confuse and slow down play. Usually your first is your best and you need to learn to trust that.

It seems most players miss putts on the low side of the hole because they don't trust the read or don't get the right speed.

Speed will always determine how much a putt will break, and it is much more common to be way off on speed then it is on read.

Practice your speed and work on some of the simple observations above and your putting will improve.

Geoff Walsh is a Class A PGA Professional at the Tarry Brae Golf Course at 387 Pleasant Valley Road, South Fallsburg. At this time private lessons are not available. If you have a question or subject you would like covered, he can be reached by telephone at 845-434-2620.

Ed Townsend is a Public Relations Consultant to the sport of Golf and brings over 60 years of sports journalism experience in writing and compiling the information for this column. When leagues open up please send league and tournament information to Ed at 845-439-8177, email to bght75@gmail.com or fax at 845-205-4474. View this column and Ed's photos at http://bght.blogspot.com We are also on Facebook and Twitter.

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