Let me very clear: I stink at golf. And so does my Pioneer Press colleague Jace Frederick.
That said, the act of being so bad at the sport this week, whether it was yanking our drives off the tee box, dribbling the ball down the fairway or three-putting from gimmee range on the green, helped make everything feel normal again.
Even if it was only for a couple of hours.
Gov. Tim Walz announced that Minnesotans finally can play golf during the coronavirus pandemic as long as they maintain social distancing while out on the links.
Not surprisingly, hundreds of amateur golfers returned to golf courses across the state the next morning, and have continued to flock to fairways ever since.
For us at the Pioneer Press, this announcement came on the same day our union approved of furloughs for the next couple of months. Can you say sudden free time?
Luckily for us, and the thousands of Minnesotans who are in the same situation, golf courses have opened just in time.
As soon as Jace decided he was taking his furlough — he’s off this week, I’m off next week — we decided to dedicate a couple of hours to tearing up the golf course. Literally.
We chose Como Park Golf Course in St. Paul for no other reason than it had available tee times.
Not many, though. On a random Wednesday morning in late April, with temperatures barely touching 50 degrees, the place was booked solid.
There were some subtle changes in the overall process that made sure everyone maintained social distancing.
You had to book tee times online. You didn’t have access to the clubhouse. You couldn’t rent a cart.
Aside from that, everything felt 100 percent normal, and I’m betting it’s the same at most courses across the state.
After checking in, and waiting for the pair ahead of us to tee off, Jace and I stepped onto the tee box at Como Park Golf Course, and it might as well have been Hazeltine National to us.
We each hit our drives maybe 100 yards and away we went.
Upon arriving at the No. 1 green — let’s pretend we were both putting for par — we encountered the most noticeable difference on the golf course.
You can no longer tend the pin, and the hole itself is filled in. That means there isn’t that feeling of euphoria that comes from putting for double bogey from 12 feet out and watching the ball disappear into the cup. But you get over that pretty quickly.
The rest of the round was a perfect example of how easy it is to main social distancing while on the golf course.
We never got close to anyone else or touched anything that wasn’t ours.
The closest we got to another person was when another golfer was hitting his second shot on No. 2 … from the tee box on No. 4.
Some of the other highlights of the round included flawlessly practicing social distancing on No. 3 by avoiding the fairway completely (Jace went right, I went left), hitting our best drives of the day on No. 5 only to card our worst scores, and straight-up not finishing out on No. 8 because we both hit the ball into the water.
That’s hands down the best part about golf. Just being absolutely wretched — and still laughing about it.
None of us are Tiger Woods. Yet for a couple of hours we can at least pretend.
Never have we needed that more than now.