Thoughtful Thursday: Have golfers become more mindful since lockdown?

Am I seeing things through rose tinted glasses or do golfers appear happier than they ever were since returning to the game after lockdown?

From my own personal experience, pretty much everyone I have seen or spoken to appears to have a new enthusiasm and appreciation for the the game. Virtually everyone, myself included, is expressing a greater appreciation for the opportunity to simply get out playing again.

Over and above that, I see fewer unprepared pitch-marks on the greens, more divots being replaced and footprints in bunkers are virtually non-existent. That has certainly been the case on both courses at Archerfield when I have played the last few Monday mornings.

I would like to the think that is a pattern forming at courses around the world and that golfers will adopt a more mindful approach to course conditions and fellow players long into the future.
We all want to play golf courses in great condition but are equally quick to complain when they don’t meet our (sometimes unrealistic) expectations.

Greenkeeping teams around the globe are doing a fantastic job and I hope that the golf community A) appreciate that and B) continue to take responsibility for pitch-marks and divots etc…

Getting back to my original question – “Have golfer’s become more mindful since lockdown?” It seems like our relationship with course maintenance and presentation has improved, but what about the game itself?

Is gratitude for the chance to play still top of your priority list or have the nasty old habits of bemoaning your bad luck and poor technique after missing a fairway, green or putt returned with a vengeance? Hopefully for your sake, they haven’t.

I recently took part in a fantastic online Mind Factor Mindfulness practitioner’s certification course organised by Karl Morris, my co-another of “The Lost Art” books. Karl and Vin Harris who amongst other things, is a founding member of The Mindfulness Association, created an incredibly insightful and entertaining programme.

The reason I mention this is that while mindfulness can and should be applied in all walks of life, this particular programme was fairly golf specific. The sense of community that this has created amongst the course participants is something none of us really expected but the interaction has been nothing short of phenomenal.

We are in regular contact with the group through WhatsApp and the sharing of success stories has been truly inspirational. That sense of community is something that has been missing from a lot of our lives due to the current COVID-19 situation. Community is perhaps something we have taken for granted in the past but now that courses are open and clubhouses may open soon, that sense of togetherness within clubs will return.

From a personal point of view, I sincerely hope we can learn some lessons from this period in time. Lessons we can apply not only to our daily lives but our golf game and golf clubs going forwards.

In order to survive and thrive, golf clubs need to engage with their members and guests but members also need to engage with and support their clubs.

If you are someone who has adopted a more thoughtful and mindful approach to the game and all that goes with it, good for you. If you haven’t, perhaps the time is right to do so.

Until next time, keep fixing pitch-marks, replacing your divots but most importantly of all, keep enjoying the great game of golf and continue to be grateful for the opportunity.

Gary Nicol.