The sport of the pandemic

Golf has gained mass popularity since the beginning of last March and shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

As we approach the anniversary of the stay-at-home orders disarray, I can’t help but find myself reminiscing on the sports-less world we were left with. The thrill of the NCAA tournament and NBA All-Star Weekend that usually accompany the month of March, was replaced by “The Tiger King” and Netflix Originals. It wasn’t until late May that we finally saw sports return to our screens, but it wasn’t basketball or baseball, the sports that usually dominate the summer months — It was golf.

On May 24, four men took to the course, as the first major sporting event to be televised in months got underway. Now, this was no ordinary match on the green — It was “The Match”, as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were joined by NFL greats Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for one of the most electric golf games I’ve ever witnessed. After months of being stuck indoors, seeing these four titans of sport hit the links offered a sense of normalcy amidst uncertain times.

Unlike the average golf tournament in which etiquette and professionalism are showcased on a grand scale, “The Match” shed light on the casual side of the game. The four legendary athletes spent the day much like anyone else on the course would: letting loose and talking trash. Here viewers were offered the jovial and carefree portrayal of a game that so often is dubbed one of the most serious sports known to man. However, as all good things do, especially in a pandemic, the match eventually came to an end and we returned to the sports-less world that had filled our lives since March.

Having shown viewers the fun side of a serious game paired with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, golfers, new and old alike flooded courses come June. A golf revolution had begun, as many wishing to get out of their homes and compete had finally found a way to do so. Driving ranges were packed with people newly inspired to pick up the sport and while the swing form wasn’t necessarily present, the spirit was.

Golf is unlike any other sport — It requires one to maintain their competitive edge while displaying a superhuman level of patience: a set of skills the average golfer doesn’t really possess. The ball is not kicked nor thrown, but remains grounded until it connects with a club. Golf teaches one to remain even-keeled, as if you let one bad shot rush to your head, it can throw off your entire day on the course. Yet, it also offers one the chance to relax, enjoying the sunshine with a couple of friends, and escape from the trials of everyday life.

It is the latter that many of us who don’t possess the potent stroke of Tiger or Phil must settle for. We struggle, we end up in the sand trap, and we find ourselves all too often crying out “fore”! But once you and your fellow golfers find humor in poor play on the course, you build a sense of community in the inability to hit a ball straight. Above all, golf teaches you how to fail and get right back on your feet, a lesson that many other aspects of life simply can’t teach.

It is through golf that I was able to find solace amid the pandemic, as being a former baseball player myself, I found it a lot easier to hit a ball that wasn’t speeding toward me at 90 mph. Golf has taught me a whole lot over the past year and my journey has only just begun — so why not start yours?