Suddenly, only half of the familiar Charles Dickens quote applies. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” As the world tries to get a grip on the Coronavirus outbreak, none of the familiar elements of American daily life are the same as they were only a few short weeks ago.
For golfers, most of those elements have evaporated — in one way or another. For “Talking GolfGetaways” podcast hosts Mitch Laurance and Darin Bunch (living across the country from each other in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Bakersfield, Calif.), after a few weeks away from their podcast microphones, their conversations about destinations, resorts, courses and the game we all love takes an unexpected turn in Episode 148 with a podcast devoted to COVID-19’s impact on the game and the new set of realities we face.
The podcast begins with a new segment originally planned to highlight “The Best Place We’ve Been, Seen or Talked About This Week.” Given the world’s extraordinary circumstances, Mitch and Darin massage the concept a bit to highlight a more important aspect of the golf industry — those who are utilizing their talents and reach to help deal with the mounting emergency facing every state.
- You’ll hear about Seamus Golf, in Portland, Ore. (@SeamusGolf on Twitter and Instagram) temporarily shutting down golf-product operations to begin producing masks for health-care workers.
- Dr. Sarah of Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada — known to her legion of Instagram followers as @smooderoo, and normally a fun, creative and golf-loving ambassador for the game — now focused on the impending increase in patients in the emergency room she serves.
- Legendary LPGA player and now main on-course commentator for CBS Golf’ Dottie Pepper (@dottiepepper on Instagram) offers suggestions on how we can all help during these trying times.
- Good friend and Fox Sports commentator Shane Bacon, (@shanebacon on Twitter) and his new BFF, PGA Tour winner and Twitter sensation Max Homa (@maxhoma23) are promoting a great way to support local food banks around the country.
- And Bill Welter of Journeyman Distillery (a longtime friend of the podcast and a sponsor of GolfTripX’s summertime Shootout at Sweetens Cove) joins Darin for a quick interview about how the spirits company based in Three Oaks, Michigan, has pivoted to making ethanol-based hand sanitizer, not only for frontline health-care workers and others with essential jobs but also now available by mail order at journeymandistillery.com (we’ve already placed our order to help support Journeyman’s displaced restaurant workers).
Darin and Mitch then discuss the question on every golfer’s mind now, assuming courses remain open wherever they live — to play or not to play? Darin offers insight gleaned from working with Rams Hill Golf Club in the Southern California desert as the team went through the process of deciding whether or not to keep Rams Hill, a course recently rising immensely in popularity, open. Mitch mentions some inspiring words by writer Jay Revell on his website JayRevell.com, who spent seven consecutive days playing golf while his family got caught under stay-at-home orders in a different part of Florida.
Moving on to a subject that affects many golfers who had planned destination trips for the spring, Mitch and Darin touch on upcoming trips they’ve already had to cancel — The Masters, Bandon Dunes, Nebraska and more — as well as possible summer cancellations should the Coronavirus situation carry forward longer than initially expected.
With everyone facing weeks at home, missing the game they love, Darin and Mitch offer some golf-related tips on various ways to carry on — in a positive way. The impact of family and pets. Home projects, sometimes long-neglected. And taking advantage of a really great opportunity for game improvement, even from inside the house.
Mitch details two of his favorite teachers, both world-class instructors with access to online lessons and drills. Englishman Alisdair Dyer in Myrtle Beach, who teaches at Barefoot Resort and has coached PGA Tour professional Kevin Streelman as well as most of the top junior golfers in South Carolina, can be contacted through his website DyerGolfAcademy.com or @dyergolfacademy on Instagram. And Jeff Ritter of Bend, Ore., who teaches out of the Pronghorn Resort and is the founder of Make The Turn (mttperformance.com), as well as being a Golf Channel Lead Coach and Golf Digest Top Ranked Instructor, can be contacted, as Mitch has done, through the CoachNow app. Jeff is one of the most creative, knowledgeable and unique coaches anywhere, and can equip golfers with drills designed to attack particular challenges, specific to each golfer. Mitch also recommends another Myrtle Beach fixture, Chris Garavito of @PARPhysicalTherapy on Instagram and YouTube, who offers great workout suggestions to deal with golfers’ most common physical issues.
As always, Mitch and Darin close the episode by reminding listeners to dream — of golf, of trips to new or favorite destinations, of friends old and new, of experiences that enrich our lives. Especially now, when we all are dreaming of a return to the game we love.
—Words by Mitch Laurance