Zooming right along!

Columns - america’s greenkeeper

Subscribe
© Terry | adobe stock

My mother-in-law says life is like a wagon wheel and one full revolution of the wheel is one year of your life. When we are born, we are on the outside of the wheel and it takes much longer to complete that revolution compared to how fast the axle is turning.

You guessed it: each passing year, you move a little closer to the center of the wheel and before you know it, life is passing you by. I swear, these days a week feels like three days, a month feels like two weeks, and a year feels like six months.

It seems like only yesterday we were first learning about the COVID-19 pandemic. And in the four months since then, we have endured everything from lockdowns and stay-at-home orders to record rounds played and all sorts of things in between.

Golf never closed in North Carolina, so I cannot speak of the experiences many of my peers endured with layoffs, furloughs, course closures and minimal maintenance. My heartfelt prayers go out to each of you who faced those experiences for your strength and courage.

I work for a private club and, like most, we curtailed guest play and still set new records for the number of rounds played four consecutive months. This even includes a stretch of more than 40 days when golf carts were not permitted! It was good to see many folks walking, and I am happy to report some still are even though carts are once again available. Public courses in and around Charlotte are also packed. For the first time, golf seems to be surviving an economic downturn.

Back to our wagon wheel. Just like that … it’s July. Summer has arrived but it’s already half over. I don’t know about you, but I find it ironic the days are zooming past while Zoom has become the preferred platform for meetings, chats and hangouts.

I had never heard of Zoom prior to the pandemic. But in the last four months, I have attended three green committee meetings and multiple association-related events via Zoom. I even participated in virtual happy hours with some friends for a few weeks at the very onset of the lockdowns.

It is probably still a little too early to predict whether turf conferences and trade shows will take place this off-season. We are already seeing notifications for virtual field days as restrictions remain in place. Even if conferences can take place, I am betting Zoom is somehow incorporated.

Is this the new normal, as they say? I don’t know. Like the rest of you, I think we are all ready for time to zoom right on and put 2020 in the rearview mirror. My grandmother used to always say do not wish your life away, but if she were still alive today, I think she might give us all a pass this time.

The other day I chuckled when I saw a meme where someone wondered if their mother’s offer to knock them into next year still stood. Humor is an excellent way to help cope with stress. And speaking of humor, did you see the European Tour’s Zoom conference call last month?

Over the past couple years, the European Tour has used its star players and social media to elevate and promote their brand with witty videos, including the Content Committee, Awkward Reporter and, of course, Moliwood, that highlight players’ personalities and make you want to watch.

But they are not just comedians. Who could forget the time Andrew “Beef” Johnston chauffeured a 9-year-old superfan to the course on his birthday and stopped along the way to pick up Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson? I do not know about you, but I find it hard to imagine American stars performing similarly, considering their reluctance to wear a microphone for the PGA Tour restart.

Here’s hoping it will not be long before fans are able to return and we all look back on this period of our lives to reflect on the lessons learned. Until then …

Matthew Wharton, CGCS, MG, is the superintendent at Carolina Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina and past president of the Carolinas GCSA. Follow him on Twitter @CGCGreenkeeper.