What Did We Learn From The Last Return To Golf?

With golfers in England set to hit the fairways once again next week, we consider what we learned from the last return to golf.

What Did We Learn From The Last Return To Golf
(Image credit: Tom Miles)

With golfers in England set to hit the fairways once again next week, we consider what we learned from the last return to golf.

What Did We Learn From The Last Return To Golf?

As golfers across England dust off their clubs and prepare to hit the fairways once more, we think about what they might expect to experience... We consider: what did we learn from the last return to golf?

1 – Golf is popular

Tee times were like gold dust when golf re-started last year. At most clubs the race to book was a fastest finger first affair with tee sheets being filled within seconds of opening online.

People developed techniques for getting in there before their rivals… “It seems that if I stand on a chair by the kitchen window and book on my laptop via hotspot, I can get 10.06…”

2 – Golf is actually enjoyable

Absence makes the heart grow fonder…. A forced break from the game reminded many of us just how much we love golf.

All the hurtful things it’s done to us in the past were forgotten.

The small irritations – the missed two-footer, the duffed chip, the double-cross, all became loveable foibles rather than potential reasons for divorcing the game.

Simply being out on the course was a joy – swinging a club, striking the odd decent shot, nothing else really mattered.

3 – It’s still hard

Having spent months thinking about the game, convincing ourselves that we were really quite good – Having ironed out swing faults while practising our action in front of the mirror, having perfected a new putting technique Ben Crenshaw told us about in a dream, having decided our problem was using the wrong ball compression, having eliminated the chipping yips through hours of chapping around the garden… We were absolutely sure we would be brilliant on golf’s return.

We weren’t.

4 – Quick golf is the way forward

When we returned last time, play was initially in twoballs.

That combined with the flag staying in, no bunker rakes and a more general acceptance of ready golf, led to a much-improved pace of play.

As play opened up to three and fourballs, the habits of speedier golf seemed to stick around.

Across the country, anecdotal evidence suggested golfers were better at getting on with it and the vast majority seemed to be enjoying the fact rounds were quicker.

Let’s hope for more of the same this year.

5 – Golf is good for you

It’s a decent walk for a start and that, interspersed with 50-odd swings, definitely keeps the engine working – even more so if you carry your bag.

Simply being out in the fresh air for a few hours, getting a bit of sun on your back is important for both physical and mental health.

And, spending time with friends or just fellow golfers, sharing stories of lockdown and a joke or two was pretty important for a lot of us last year.

Golf is a great social activity and getting back to some sort of club life, even if restricted, was a big boost last spring and will be so again.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?