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RENSLOW: Golf in the time of COVID-19

John Renslow
Golf columnist

With the continuing efforts to stay at home, there is some good news for those who feel comfortable heading out to the golf course. Similar to state parks, golf can be our source of exercise and fresh air.

While we respect the governor’s order and social distancing, there may yet be a bit of normalcy found on the course. It is within the guidelines to meet some friends at the course and stretch the legs out or keep your game in shape.

Although the Ridge Golf Course is currently closed, Darkhorse Golf Course and Alta Sierra Country Club are open on a limited basis.

Starting times at Alta Sierra CC are available between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. However, golf carts are not released after 12 p.m. One may still play after noon, yet they must walk the course.

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Darkhorse GC is open with 10 minute starting time intervals that begin around 7:30 a.m. Golf carts are to be included with greens fees here. If you can make the reservation, you should be able to get your cart.

Doubtless, the maintenance crews and pro shop staff are at a minimum staffing level. So, please don’t expect tour conditions. This is an opportunity to support your local courses, get some much needed sun on your face, and keep our limbs flexible.

For others however, we are just as well to keep it indoors. Perhaps we’ve had some health issues or don’t want to test the six degrees of separation.

Let not your heart be troubled.

Once again, Get Into Golf is here to help. There are number of things you can do to get your golf fix, or perhaps improve your game, even when the best thing to do is stay indoors.

Consider the possibility to help your short game. Heaven knows, none of us spend enough time chipping and putting. Depending on the size and design of your home, one or other might be more practical, hopefully you can do both.

Homes or rooms with short carpet are great for putting. Hit putts with a focus on the initial line. The goal is to send the ball down the target line; solid, accelerating strokes that move directly down the line.

You think your carpet is level, but it’s probably not, and we don’t want to get caught up in the break. We want to practice the putting motion. Later, after you feel hitting them well, have some fun and make a golf course throughout your home. Invite a few friends over, tip a couple of cold ones and start a nassau.

Chipping is very beneficial, although you may want to remove anything breakable from the room (you know who you are). For those of you who are comfortable with chipping, get an 8-iron, pitching wedge, or sand wedge and use the same format as we did with the putter.

Now, be honest…do you really hit most of your chips solid and straight? Most people don’t. So, try this. First, take a chair with a soft cushion and flip it on its side. Take a few balls and your 8-iron. Then using a chipping motion, hit balls into the cushion.

Your stance should be narrow and open, weight favoring the left side/leg (for right handers), with minimal movement in your hands, as your shoulders, arms, and torso move the clubhead through the ball. The result should be crisp, centered shots that hit that cushion with a solid “thud”.

Next, if you have the space, or just move to the hallway, use this motion to hit small, solid chips toward a target. And, a fun way to practice is to get a small trash can or “golf safe” bowl. Place the object about six feet in front of you and try to hit the chip so the ball flies into the can or plastic bowl.

This will help you a lot when you’re back on the golf course, because when a chip is hit onto the green, we’re not hitting it at the hole, we’re hitting it to a spot. From there it’s up to the ball.

These are a couple of fun ways to spend some time and maybe even improve your short game. Stay tuned next week when we will discuss a few more ways to play rather than going stir crazy.

John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.


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