Players Cancelled, Masters Postponed from Coronavirus – For How Long?
None of us knows how long this coronavirus thing is going to continue as a major health concern, but we do know that it flies no flag, holds no territory, and couldn’t care less about any one of us and our situations. In the insensate attack on our health, the virus has stamped out many of the favorite activities we enjoy in the late winter and early spring months. That gives us a chance to reevaluate their importance to our lives. As we begin to notice their absence, atypical sensations of loss and disappointment may emerge.
The more basic view of societal life is that the “flowers” of civilization just aren’t as important as the nuts and bolts professions, from medicine to first-responders to farmers. On a literal level, that may be true, but all callings serve, and a wondrous array of events and thoughts have come true on the golf course. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t participate anymore. One type of profession saves or rebuilds lives. Others beautify it, like art, sport, and nature. To the truly passionate golfer, the disappearing tournaments, such as the Masters and the Players, are a big deal, a very big deal. We have to give them up. Coronavirus is serious and loves a crowd. But we are diminished in the process.
For those of us who grew up with the Oz-tinged glow of Augusta, one might as well cancel Christmas Eve and all other major holidays. That tournament is visually embedded in our brains, as the azaleas are carefully calculated and prodded to explode just at the right moment. It is a satisfying gift to the psyche each spring, and while no one will literally perish from its absence, the links are just a little sadder this week. The virus has robbed us of an annually expected dash of beauty and high-level competition.
The Players was axed altogether, and I unwittingly watched the first hour of a rerun before they let me know that it was the 2019 version. Not good enough. Play the Masters in May or June, and the azaleas won’t be the same. The Masters color scheme, that rich Irish tone that abounds all throughout the course will be altered. Nostalgia will not be well-served. Coronavirus has won the first round. It’s really not possible for hundreds upon hundreds of golf devotees clamoring for a spot along the ropes to maintain a distance of six feet, or a crowd population of under 250. The collegiality, including handshakes, hugs, and patted backs has been nullified by the coronavirus.
I suppose that of the major sports, mostly team sports, a round of golf could maintain a higher percentage of its competitive energy. The crowd participates in the energy of hockey, basketball, football and rugby, but even with a new type of overt gallery in this day and age, we generally let the player alone until he or she has completed the concentrated task of hitting that ball. We observe the inner process, then make the appropriate noise at the result.
More than the expected beauty of the event is lost. Our mental pictures and memories from a lifetime with the game include those dearest to us, and a myriad of natural art. We have toured all the major galleries since childhood, through the deserts, forests, and along the coasts. We have followed our heroes, and on an occasional shot, perhaps have been one as well. Coronavirus is an insult to our striving for unattainable perfection on the fairway. And yet, for a while, thevirus holds the cards, and we must protect ourselves as best we can.
So, while the calendar has been blotted out by the coronavirus, we need to keep the azaleas and the cliff-hanger finishes in our minds until it is safe for us, and them, to come out again. Golf is among our “flowers” of civilization, and sometimes we need flowers as much as we need bread.