• Last but not final rounds

    Golf at Rondebosch
    Early morning golf

    As golfers around the country scramble to complete their pre-lockdown rounds, it’s impossible not to look at the bigger picture, writes WADE PRETORIUS.

    We are facing extraordinary times. Going into a 21-day lockdown with only essential services open in the battle to contain and ultimately defeat a virus that has spread across the world leaving behind its deadly effect.

    Naturally, I called upon two friends for a last pre-work dawn patrol … trying to enjoy my last round of golf for three weeks (yes, it included a duffed first-tee shot, social distancing, no flag touching and regular hand-sanitising breaks etc). It was quite a peculiar feeling really, to play not knowing when you will again. Obviously, with lives being lost around the world and the number of Covid-19 infections rapidly rising in South Africa, these thoughts are a mere distraction from the devastation.

    Sport – read golf – is an escape for many. When you watch it, you get worked up at the prospect of another South African Major victory or your other favourites lifting the silverware. And with the time zones, it never interferes with your own enjoyment of playing the game. Trying to lower your handicap, beat your friends, win meat at the Wednesday comp or simply walking around hitting a little white ball (or yellow or even a luminous green these days) out in the open for a few hours before returning to normality.

    Now, we move into the unknown … not just how your dodgy back is going to hold up in a month’s time or when you might have your next crack at breaking 90. We move there alongside a postponed tour schedule … no Masters in April, no PGA Championship in May and now, maybe no US Open in June. What will it do to the FedExCup? And to the Ryder Cup qualifications? Will the Ryder Cup remain in its allocated date slot?

    On the Compleat Golfer website and our social channels, we’ve done our best to show you a glimpse of how bored tour pros are reacting. In the vacuum of weekly previews, round reports and Sunday victories, it’s mostly all we can do.

    Golf is part of my daily ritual, whether it be playing it or covering it. It’s work and a hobby. For many it’s only work … and the uncertainties around this period of unique history are understandably daunting. But I guess, despite all the questions and all the ‘what ifs’, we know that golf will eventually return to our TV screens, information to our laptops and phones and, most importantly, to our exercise and social routines.

    Clubs and golfers will do their utmost to make up for lost time. We, hopefully, will return kinder and more grateful. We will do our best not to sweat the small stuff, to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. We will do our utmost to contribute to the success of the golf venues that we missed over the lockdown. We will be generous where possible and help move forward after the difficulties of the first quarter of 2020.

    Our regular dawn patrols will reunite and our Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday schools will resume rivalries. Golf tours will be planned.

    We will speculate on whether Rory McIlroy, who entered the break as the globe’s best and most in-form player, will win The Masters at last and join golf’s great elite with the career slam. We may trade a misbehaving club or two with the dual goal of stimulating the economy and upgrading our bag.

    Once it is safe, we will go back to work, on to the golf courses and late at night on to the couch. We live and love this game. This, too, will pass … please stay safe.

    See you on the first tee or at the 19th  in due course.

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