It was another week where golf afforded some of us the opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy ourselves. The courses have done a great job in complying with California county rules and I haven’t heard any complaints or whining about the rules. There is a superordinate feeling that no matter how inane we might feel about the rules, we’re going to accept any rules that will enable us to continue to play. By time this pandemic is over, my golf bag will have a plethora of plastic bags containing masks, tees, pencils and bag tags. A major change to the game was placing a cylinder around the golf hole cup so that the ball won’t go into the cup and just ricochet against the cylinder. This gadget has caused some interesting conversations as to whether a putt would have gone in or not. In some cases, the ball hits the cylinder with a pace that would not have gone into the hole but counts as a made putt, which is going to cause some putting problems with pace when normal putting resumes. Private courses that I have played took a different approach and placed a styrofoam sponge-like material inside the cup with enough room so that when the putt is made, it is the same as a normal hole as the ball is easily retrieved by removing the ball or tapping it away with the putter head.
We played a public course in Pacific Grove–Pacific Grove Golf Links (deemed the poor man’s Pebble Beach) and found it to be extremely pleasant as pace of play has improved significantly with the spacing of tee times to every 12 minutes. Perhaps something good will come out of this for public courses as we did not experience any slow play conditions.
It seems that golf will be the first professional sport back live with the first event scheduled at the Colonial Country Club in Dallas, Texas in mid-June. The players will play without fans and my feeling is that they won’t really miss the “Yu the Man” and “Awwwwww!” etc. but the tour will miss the revenue generation and the locals will miss a lot of the funding for the supported charities. TV ratings should be stratospheric because how much UFC can one really take. There’s enough UFC activity going on in certain homes that have now been in lock-up for almost 10 weeks. Playing without fans is going to have absolutely no impact on the professional game as these guys are concentrating so hard that they can tune out most of the crowd noise. Fans do add suspense and color to the proceedings but it seems that course layouts are so large that limited crowds might be able to practice safe social distancing for future events and perhaps give you the feeling of “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” telecasts. At least we won’t have to listen to Joe Buck as all major USGA events have been cancelled so no Fox Golf.
Corona Country Club–World Match Play
On to the ninth hole at the World Match Play where China/Russia are 1UP on the United States. Trump has summoned Jared Kushner to Corona and the new rules have allowed for his arrival on Air Force One. Kushner boarded Air Force One with a mask that also included a blindfold since Corona’s destination remains a deep dark secret. Air Force One is being piloted by Amazon robotic pilots–nicknamed the Kaizen Corps. Kushner has arrived with some supplies that are going through Corona’s inspection protocols that are outsourced to Amazon. Amazon has deployed their new special K series inspection robots for the task–Kushner has brought vials and tablets of hydroxychloroquine for snacks, masks and some brand new Titleist golf balls. Shivas Irons is supervising the inspection operation openly wary of what might be coming down from the baggage compartment. “Ayeee nvr see’n such chao-s” “Tis dreadful fr ye game.” Of course, the inspectors find the Titleist balls and they are confiscated. Kushner has another surprise for Trump–another figure is emerging from the plane–its Blake Snell, starting pitcher for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Snell is a left-handed scratch golfer who Kushner has recruited to replace Barr who has to return to Washington. Trump wants him to take some golf lessons from Butch Harmon in the event that he has to return to the match. Snell is fresh from a dispute with the Devil Rays who wanted to prorate his salary for the current season. Snell is adamant that Kushner will pay in advance for competing in the event, “Bro, I want it all, bro, you have to go all the way, Bro.” Kushner states, “play for the love of the country, money should not be a thing.” Snell retorts, “What do you mean it should not be a thing?, It’s 100%, should be a thing.” Kushner is concerned that Snell won’t tee it up and is loathe to discuss the negotiations with Trump. Shivas is not sure who is going to show up on the 9th tee but Barr’s bags are packed and it looks like we might be ready to go.
The ninth hole is a 425 yard, par 4 with bunkers on both sides of the fairway. There is a steep ditch at 295 yards off the tee, which is beyond the skill level of these players. The hole will require two very good shots with an approach shot that has to clear the ditch. On the other side of the ditch, there are another series of bunkers on the right that are extremely penal. The right side of the hall is a bailout area where a missed shot to the green can be approached for a potential par. Trump is pretty psyched up and munches 400 mg. of hydroxychloroquine and puts another 1000 mg. in his golf bag. McConnell looks pretty hungover( actually his normal state) as he is now going to accompany Trump in the Tesla golf cart. He can’t actually ride in the cart with Trump since that is against the rules. Kushner is coming along and now the US has a bit of an entourage. Kushner is tired of Snell’s ranting and raving so he is leaving him alone. Trump hits a great drive down the middle of the fairway some 275 yards, which is by far his best shot of the tournament. Xi steps up to the tee looking a bit confused as he’s been unable to practice with his recently arrived Huawei driver. Shivas looks intently at the driver–it’s 6 degrees with a head as large as a gorilla–Shivas doubts the drivers meets USGA specifications but we don’t even know if we’re playing with USGA jurisdiction. Shivas muses to Xi, “Good luck and playee awy.” Xi takes a mighty swing and the ball starts out straight but then abruptly fades into the right side of the hole just in bounds. Xi has no chance at the green and hits an 8 iron back into the fairway. He is still 190 yards from the hole and a three wood finds the ditch. Trump sports a huge grin and pulls a 5 iron and swings sweetly as the ball flies onto the green some 15 ft. from the hole. Trump turns to Kushner, “Jared, this hydroxcloroquine-stuff really works,” “Look at that shot.” There is no drug testing protocol at Corona so everything is okay. Xi knocks a wedge onto the green and two putts for a triple bogey 7. Trump calmly two putts for his best hole of the day with a par. Snell marches to the day with a big grin who looks like the cat that ate the canary. He’s going with the new Calloway driver and pulls the tee shot way out of bounds to the right into Corona’s maintenance shed. Snell shrugs asks for a Mulligan. Shivas asks him, “What is a Mulligan.” Play awayee.” Snell hits the next driver even further right, another dead pull, “Bro, What’s going on here?.” Snell is now hitting 5 off the tee and makes a complete mess of things ending up with a 12 for the day by holing out a shot from the right bunker. Putin continues his conservative ways by hitting 3 nine irons to the edge of the ditch and then almost holes the pitching wedge and taps in for a 5. Trump wins the hole for the US and the match is ALL SQUARE.
Shivas is nonplussed. He is looking forward to reopening Corona to the rest of the membership and getting back to some sense of normalcy. Relief from this group is essential but he senses that additional troubles are in the offing on the back nine. There is a rumor that Nancy Pelosi wants to investigate how Trump’s shed was constructed and that Fox Sports is making a bid to televise the back nine with Joe Buck.