Sports Take: Golf is thriving, even with COVID-19

Rickie Fowler hits from the second tee of the South Course during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

By Jarrod Leicher | Reporter

I always say, “Golf is only boring if you make it boring.”

Golf is a sport that is quite special. It is one of the few sports that anyone at any age can play, there are very few rules that a causal player has to follow and the odds are someone you know plays or has played.

When I was in high school, my friends would make fun of me for playing golf, but then I finally convinced them to actually go to the course with me, and they fell in love with it. We began going out every Saturday to play 18 holes. As a bored teenager, golf was an easy way to hang out with my friends.

Anyone can go out to a course and play a round of golf. Even if you’re not experienced or you think you’re not good at the sport, you can still play.

Even equipment is not as expensive as many people think. I was given my dads old set when I started. Just like any other sport, the player only spends as much money as they want to. If someone wants to start golfing, there are tons of ways to get equipment. Goodwill almost always has a set for under $50.

Playing 18 holes isn’t all that expensive either. Cottonwood Golf Course here in Waco usually charges $34 with a cart. They also have a much smaller “junior” course that is only $5.

Some people have preconceived ideas about the sport. They say it’s for old people, or it takes too long, but over the years the game has changed to become younger, and a round doesn’t really take that long.

The stereotype that only old people play golf is not true at all. In fact, there are more people age 18-34 who played golf in 2019, while baby boomers did play more rounds on average.

Eighteen holes of golf are supposed to take four hours and 15 minutes. That’s only one hour longer than an NFL game. If I don’t have enough time to play 18, playing nine is always an option, which is an hour less than a baseball game.

Seeing as we’ll still be in a pandemic for the foreseeable future, golf is still a way I am able to be with my friends. The sport takes place only outdoors and never requires close contact, so its no surprise the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t affected golf as much as almost every other activity. As of August, 98% of courses in the U.S. were open.

But the popularity of the sport was rising even before 2020.

In 2019, about one in three Americans interacted with golf in some way. But that number will only grow as media sites like Barstool Sports and their Fore Play podcast grow in popularity as well, especially with younger audiences.

The popularity and image of golf has also improved over the last few years with people in their early twenties because many athletes of other sports have started playing. Some of the greatest athletes of all time are avid golfers. Since athletes like Tom Brady, Steph Curry and Mike Trout started playing golf more publicly, their fans have noticed.

In this pandemic, a lot of us are bored at home and isolated. Golf is an easy way to do something with friends that is safe to do in the age of COVID-19.