The Open Championship, one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments held in Kent in the UK, has become the latest major sporting event — after Wimbledon and the Olympics — to be postponed this year, in the wake of the coronavirus. The attempt at social distancing is, of course, welcome. But, let’s face it, golf was quite a distant sport to begin with. In fact, it is arguably a sport that is tailor-made for the pandemic.
Unlike, say, football — entertainment for the masses, continuation of war by other means, modern gladiatorial contest — there is little chance of physical contact among golfers. Vast tracts of land are devoted to this pastime, and an unconscionable amount of resources — both monetary and ecological — are spent to create the illusion of Scottish moors. And it is, both in its origins and at its core, an isolationist exclusivist enterprise. A caddy does the heavy lifting, and he can easily be instructed to maintain a two-arm distance. Players already wear rather odd-looking gloves, so, unlike healthcare professionals, they are protected from the germ.
It is, of course, unfair to single out golf. The sport is both a symbol and a symptom. During the lockdowns in force in various parts of the world in varying degrees, there are jobs that afford the luxury of working from home just as there are people who can simply afford to stay in for a month or two. There are those with high-speed internet and friends across the world, who can catch up over video chat. And there are those who dread the loss of their livelihoods. Golfers, by and large, are a small subset of the former category. Clearly, this lot has suffered enough, and lo, they have an outdoor pastime that practically invented social distancing. While most face the prospect of lining up for bread, we should let them have golf.