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Keeping up with the Jones: How COVID-19 has changed my summer routine

By |  September 11, 2020 0 Comments
Photo: Seth Jones

Seth Jones

I think I’m a typical guy when it comes to most things. I like my sports live, my beer cold and my steak medium. I know the difference between King Kong and King Kong Bundy. I’ve seen all the Lord of the Rings movies but only made it halfway through reading The Hobbit. And, I now realize how painfully one-dimensional I am, when a pandemic threw a change-up at my typical summer routine.

For example, summer concerts are always sprinkled throughout my calendar. In 2020, there are no summer concerts. There is no “fight for your right to party!” because there is no party.

Summer popcorn flicks are always high on my list. The Top Gun sequel looked great, like a two-hour, air-conditioned flight simulator. But that’s a “negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.”

Friday nights at Rick’s in Lawrence, watching the Kansas City Royals on the big screen with a Miller Lite pint dripping condensation on an overused coaster? Nope! The bars in Douglas County are closed. Townie bars, sports bars, heck, I’d take a trendy speakeasy with a mustachioed hipster in a vest serving me something with a large block of ice in it.

So what’s a one-dimensional guy like me to do? Give The Hobbit another try? Go for a walk?

Apparently, many of my kind in a similar situation have rediscovered something that was there all along: the great game of golf. Who could have guessed back in March, when Americans were Googling hazmat suits, that in July they’d be searching for a new set of irons?

A couple of years ago, I was in Florida playing the Blue Course at Streamsong when Red/Blue Superintendent Kyle Harris pulled up to say hello. He parked his car then walked over behind me and my playing partner to watch us. Right on cue, and because I’m me, I toed my iron … and hit his golf cart. A thwick, followed with a smack, then an expletive. Humiliated, I quickly apologized. Harris, quite the intellectual, laughed and said, “It’s OK … I enjoy it when two sounds that don’t go together are juxtaposed.”

I’m guessing Harris (if he still subscribes to Golfdom, after that moment) will appreciate this text I got from a superintendent friend in the industry: Pandemic and good weather was the perfect formula for golf rounds.

I got that text, read it, put down my phone. Then I paused and looked again at my phone and considered his sentence. “Pandemic … good weather … perfect formula.” Thwick, smack! What an unlikely juxtaposition. Welcome to the summer of 2020.

We’ll wait and see what the National Golf Foundation reports on rounds played for June and July, but based on what we’re hearing and seeing, records were shattered across the country. Groups stacked four deep at 5:30 in the morning … the business people who used to be too busy for nine, back on the back nine … young people dipping their toes in the water and giving golf a try. In this issue’s cover story, Associate Editor Sarah Webb talks to golf industry professionals around the country about this occurrence, this “if you build it, they will come,” Field of Dreams moment golf is experiencing.

With all due respect to the death and danger COVID-19 has wrought upon our great country, it’s awesome that golf finds itself at this moment in the spotlight as a safe, healthy, enjoyable game that is open to all walks of life. Only time will tell how this current spike in rounds will affect the game long term. But as all of us in the golf industry stand and look over this birdie putt, there’s one thing for sure: We’re not going to leave this one short.

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About the Author:

Seth Jones, a 18-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at

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