The normal life everyone lived prior to the COVID-19 pandemic no longer exists.
People are practically locked in their houses for the upcoming weeks and are told to be at least 6 feet away from one another.
Sports, as a whole, has completely stopped, but one sense of normalcy currently found by some people is playing a sport often overlooked.
Golf is one sport you can play alone. Players almost never get closer than 6 feet to anyone, as hundreds of yards safely separate other golfers behind or in front of them.
Golfers have begun resurfacing as the weather has gotten better. People are getting outside and still effectively practicing social distancing.
“I can’t sit at home,” Hopkinsville Golf and Country Club member Steve Akin said. “I’ve been mowing the yard every day just to have something to do. I’ve got to get out. We don’t get close to each other. I figure I’m about as safe as I can be going to the grocery store. We don’t act a fool or anything. When I go home I take everything I wore, I take it off and I wash it. When I get in the truck, I wipe my steering wheel down. I’m trying to do everything that we’re supposed to do. This is my only recreational activity.”
The 2020 KY PGA Teacher of the Year Mitchell Moore has continued to teach golf lessons throughout the pandemic. While he is having to change the way he teaches, he has been teaching more now.
“I think it’s helped keep some sort of normalcy in their life,” he said. “As long as I keep to get going, aside from the weather, I’m actually doing more lessons because of this. People are wanting to be outside. Spring sports are pretty much canceled so there’s nothing competing there. Softball, baseball players are like ‘let’s do golf.’ ”
Hannah Witherspoon, a Madisonville native, drives her two sons JT, 16, and Jake, 10, to Hopkinsville to take lessons with Moore. She said she wanted to make sure her sons had something to do other than sit at home.
“We wanted to keep some normalcy in the boys’ life,” Witherspoon said. “The boys go regularly for golf lessons with Mitchell anyway. I think he has some certain guidelines where he can’t do his lessons inside. ... I didn’t let that stop me from the fear of not being able to do lessons because Mitchell is taking every precaution.”
Moore said his precautions change daily.
“It’s changing day-to-day,” he said. “Me personally, one of the biggest changes was having to teach outside only. The days that it’s not raining in the last week or so, it’s at least been warm enough that that’s fine by me. Just try to keep it as safe as possible.
“It’s been a challenge to try and give lessons without grabbing the golf club and moving the club where I want it. I’ve had to kind of be a little bit more creative in analogies and explaining.”
JT’s basketball season was cut short due to COVID-19 as the Madisonville-North Hopkins Maroons were prepared to head to Lexington for the KHSAA Sweet 16. The tournament is currently postponed, with no return date set.
Jake currently cannot practice with his baseball team. So, with both boys not being able to play other organized sports, Witherspoon said they have hit the links more to make up for it.
“We had a beautiful day out here (Thursday) so we went out and played nine holes,” Witherspoon said. “The day before that, my oldest son played 18 ... They have played much more golf recently than they would have because of the lack of their sports teams.”
Moore said as the weather has gotten nicer, the driving range and the course have started to fill up a bit more over the last few days.
“I got there pretty early yesterday (Monday) and I was one of the first ones there,” he said. “I had my first lesson and no one was there, no one was driving down Country Club Lane. It just felt like a ghost town. If felt like I was post-apocalyptic giving a golf lesson. Then as it started to warm up, get a little later, the driving range started to get full. You’re seeing people so it felt like a normal day, which we haven’t had in a long time. Seeing familiar faces made it feel a little bit more calm with normal.”
With no near end in sight for the COVID-19 pandemic, Akin suggests if you’re looking for something to do, go pick up a golf club and give it a try.
“I think it’s something you can play by yourself ... you don’t have to have a number,” Akin said. “You can come out and play and stay way past 6 feet apart. You don’t have to get close to each other at all. I’m out here playing ... Golf is something that no matter how good you are, you can play.”