A perfect way to begin, or end, this column doesn’t exist. A perfect way to begin, or end, this issue doesn’t exist.
The magazine you’re reading went to the printer March 31. The curve in the United States had not flattened. Perhaps the curve flattened or dropped the day you opened the magazine. Perhaps it didn’t.
Instead of examining March Madness brackets and Masters odds to begin this spring, we studied data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. We watched the stock market plunge and unemployment soar.
Every industry, in every sector, altered its 2020 plan in response to COVID-19. Some of your facilities halted operations. Some of your facilities permitted regular play with enhanced health and safety measures. Decisions were taken out of your hands by people who exert more authority than your bosses or members. Unsettling times, indeed.
Since arriving in America in the late 1800s, golf has endured a pair of World Wars, a Great Depression and a Great Recession, personal and financial insecurities following a horrific act of terror, and the zaniness of the 1960s. Now isn’t the time to predict how golf will financially and technically fare in the looming days, weeks and months.
Everything must settle before clarity emerges. Nothing seemed settled on March 31, 2020.
Deadlines in the publishing world are non-negotiable. So, we sent issue No. 4 of the 14th year in the Golf Course Industry era to our trusted printer.
We stuck to our theme. We wanted to explore municipal golf and honor turfgrass managers who work in the public sector this month. Municipal golf courses are safe havens dutifully maintained by professionals whose sense of perfection exists in scenes such as the one depicted on the cover. A woman. Three children. Four bags. An open fairway. A natural setting. Did you feel a bit better when you saw it?
All are welcome at a municipal course. Even during a pandemic, many municipalities continued welcoming golfers. Quality outdoor recreation soothes and satisfies in good times. It limits suffering and stress in bad times. Live sporting events were canceled, movie theaters were closed. Golf played on in places where the curve wasn’t alarmingly steep.
Golf will play on following COVID-19. Once it plays on fully, we’ll understand how the pandemic affected operations. We have our alpha moments and want to immediately chase every development. But we’re letting this one simmer. We have far more questions than answers. The stakes are too high to mislead or misinform.
We’re in the same situation as most of you. COVID-19 will alter our 2020 plans and there’s no perfect way to proceed. We scrapped a prominent story scheduled for this issue because the timing didn’t feel right. Perhaps it runs in May or June. Perhaps you never see the story.
We didn’t scrap our cover package because the timing still feels right. West Seattle Golf Club, Cedarcrest Golf Course, Desert Willow Golf Resort, SilverRock Golf Resort, Indian Wells Golf Resort, Seneca Golf Course, Neshanic Valley Golf Course and more than 2,800 other municipal courses matter to the communities supporting them. And the people maintaining these courses demonstrate the ingenuity, adaptability and devotion required to provide meaningful escapes for the masses. Their stories offer a temporary escape from feeds and screens filled with fright.
Two courses profiled in this issue, West Seattle GC and Seneca, were part of the Works Progress Administration, a labor program created in response to the Great Depression. Tough times produce enduring work. Remember this as you attempt to find clarity in 2020.