Is Golf OK During the Pandemic?


A priest, a rabbi and a yogi stand six feet apart from each other on a tee box.

This isn’t the start of a joke, but an honest effort to understand if it’s OK to play golf now. The National Golf Foundation reports that 44 percent of courses in the United States are open. Sixteen states have put golf on the nonessential list of banned activities, which means of course, 34 haven’t. In the absence of a unified stance, sometimes it helps to call on higher powers.

Jonathan Morris is a 9-handicap and a member of Winged Foot Golf Club where he has blessed many tournament dinners with perspective and humor. He played the first weekend in April when it was 50s and sunny, and remembers the decision being as straightforward as taking a walk in the park.

“I’m using my god-given gift of reason to live in accordance with what science and data is telling me,” Morris says. With walking distance, raised cups, no handling of flagsticks or rakes, golf is a sport that can be played alone yet parallel with others. (Not that you have to call it a sport; the label is irrelevant for our purpose here.) The question is, does Morris need an infectious-disease expert to calculate the chance of a transmission among small groups of people across hundreds of acres of grass?