In these COVID-19 times, the game of golf has meant a lot of things to a lot of people in the year’s time that the pandemic has affected our society. For everyday folks like Jaime Costanzo, a longtime PlayGolfMyrtleBeach.com World Amateur participant who has now relocated full-time to the Grand Strand, it’s had a life-altering impact.
By Jaime Costanzo
2020 was a challenging year for most. Life as we know it was shut down and turned inside out. In March, I worked for the public school system in New Jersey that went from “all in” to “all out” in 12 hours. Shortly after that, the state shut down everything, and the only people on the roads were delivery trucks from online purchases at food stores and Amazon.
After two months of the shutdown, some states began to open their golf courses. Our neighboring state of New York was one of them. A group of us would drive more than 200 miles round trip to play golf.
Golf was the only thing we could, and wanted, to do. Why, you ask? Here’s why.
For most, golf helps to forget the hard stuff. It cures the pain. Where some people need alcohol or drugs, golfers need golf. Don’t get me wrong. A cocktail after the round helps to get past the bad shots and laugh it off. But that’s just a post-game component for some.
Your mind can only have one thought at a time. It is impossible to have two. We can juggle our thoughts and toggle between many, but only one idea at one time can take place in our brain. And golf is a fantastic sport to divert your attention from COVID-19 and other realities.
It starts with the smell and quiet sounds of the course. The freshly cut grass, birds singing, leaves rustling among the trees, and the small wildlife roaming the course. There are many lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans that reflect and frame the green grass and paint a surreal scenery. Many courses put you in a state of meditation. When standing to take my shot, I look at my surroundings, and I am thankful to see such beauty. As Ben Hogan once said in delivering my favorite quote, “As you walk down the fairway of life, you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”
We then go to the actual art of playing the game. Golf is where our thoughts are focused on just golf, and not the outside world. We think about the target and what type of shot will get us there. We all have different ideas and thoughts on how to execute that, but we all have the same goal: to hit good shots and get the ball in the hole.
Some may argue this point, but all golfers are competitive. Whether you’re competing against others, against yourself and your lowest score, or the course, you are competitive. We always want to do better and achieve our personal best, which is a competitive thought process. My point is, playing “competitive” golf is an excellent diversion. It creates a hyper-focused action for 18 holes, and when it’s over, we want to do it all over again like an addiction.
Perhaps golf is an addiction that soothes the pain of reality.
Since the world of COVID-19 began and the stress it created, I’ve since been fortunate enough to be able to quit my job and move to Myrtle Beach, “The Golf Capital of the World.” I now play a minimum of three times per week, sometimes five. I play in groups from four to 164. We wear masks around the clubhouse and cart staging area and remove them once we get to the first tee. The pin stays in the hole, we touch our own equipment, and we no longer shake hands on 18.
I’ve endured this new world we now live in, and golf has been a great diversion and vehicle to afford me my sanity. Had I been the one to sit home and not change my thought process or way of life, I may be in a different place.
My advice, if you’ve never played the game:
Now is the time to learn.