I write as the UK chalks up the second week of another national lockdown, potentially lasting for months, to rightfully stem the spread of COVID, save lives and protect the NHS. As a consequence, courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been closed. Not so in Scotland.

If I lived north of the border I’d be able to play golf, socially distanced, with one other on a local course as the Scottish government has taken a different view of COVID safe golf, despite strict stay at home rules. As a consequence, Scottish golfers are able to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of playing golf in a COVID safe way. Jealous? Me? Well, probably just a wee bit.

Playing by the rules

While I am really missing the opportunity to get out, get some fresh air and burn some calories on a golf course for a few hours, golfers like us are accustomed to playing by the rules. It’s what we do. So unless I move to Scotland, I’m going to need a ‘Plan B’.

Couch to 5Kcal

My recent ‘Couch to 5K’ routine has been curtailed due to icy conditions under foot and a complete lack of enthusiasm for donning tight black jogging leggings on a frosty morning. Then again, judging by the rapidly vanishing stash of snacks and wine in my household, my alternate ‘Couch to 5K Calories’ plan is going remarkably well. So my Plan B has swung into action:

Plan B

  1. Clean and polish those muddy golf shoes, replace broken soft spikes and oil my trolley wheels
  2. Deep clean, groove sharpen and re-grip my clubs. It’s about time
  3. Do 20 practice swings every day until I can hold a rolling pin in a Rory McIlroy finish
  4. Practice putting on the hall carpet – stimpmeter 6-12 depending on the direction of vacuuming
  5. Play online golf while resisting my snack/wine reserves.

Silver linings

While many businesses may suffer due to a lockdown, the upside for golf courses is the opportunity to let the sodden well-trodden turf recover and to work on presentation standards for a spring re-opening. When courses do open, the days will be longer, the weather warmer, tee-times will vanish fast and golfers will return with renewed enthusiasm. Can’t wait.

For UK golfers outside Scotland, lockdown is an opportunity for some off-course winter training and re-allocating golf time to other valuable pursuits. At least I’ll be able to bulk up like Bryson thanks to my ‘Couch to 5K Calories’ plan. However, I fear the growing ‘relaxed muscle’ around my waist will lengthen my trouser belt and not my driving distance.

Lang may yer lum reek!

How are you staying golf fit during lockdown course closures? Let us know in an email to contribute@puttbandit.com and we’ll mention some of the best in our monthly newsletter.

Paul Hart is a founding director of PuttBANDIT Ltd, co-inventor of the PuttBANDIT Ball Marker and enthusiastic improver. Paul was playing with a handicap index of 10.7 and now misses playing golf very much.