Fore! Golfers play on, for now in some places, with precautions in place


CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) Don’t touch the flagstick. No need to rake the bunker. You won’t need to reach into the hole to retrieve the ball in some places, either.

Golf in the middle of the coronavirus crisis certainly is different, but unlike other sports and recreational activities, this one is still open for business in many parts of the country.

Golfer Mark Laliberte calls it a “needed distraction.”

“My wife and my daughters and I love to watch sports. It’s crazy that there is nothing on. So, getting out now, being able to really get some fresh air and chat is a very good thing,” Laliberte said during a recent outing at Highland Creek Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dean Riggs, Highland Creek’s head golf pro, says the course is doing its best to make it safe for players.

“We’ve lifted the cups about an inch or so above the surface of the putting green. So, what that allows people to do is putt until they hit the cup and then just pick up their golf ball to avoid touching the flagstick,” Riggs said.

People are finding a certain amount of normalcy on the golf course, a chance to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes, as long as they take the proper precautions.

Golfer Jeff Hanley is among them.

“You’re outdoors. And you’re not near anybody else,” said Hanley, who played recently at the Elmridge public golf course in Connecticut. “And there’s only groups of four. And you’re far apart. We’re not touching the pins. The equipment we have is our own equipment. It’s not anybody else’s equipment.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

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