My 5 Loves, Learnings and Lessons of Lockdown by James Gribble

Reflecting on the last six months of lockdown, it’s amazing how the golf industry and its extensive community has adapted to change. With this in mind, I’d like to take the time to highlight some of the innovative measures introduced to ensure continued safe play and share my 5 Loves, Learnings and Lessons of Lockdown:

1. Simple Pleasures

As you may have guessed, Empower Golf is my passion and for me there is nothing more rewarding than sharing my love of the game than creating opportunities for disabled Australians to experience this brilliant sport. Never have we needed fresh air, wide open spaces and comradery more. With COVID 19 decimating societies, economies and livelihoods around the globe, focusing on life’s little things is surely the ultimate natural remedy. What could be better than the casual competition, friendly banter and dreamy green sanctuary of the local links? Not thought of golf as cerebral therapy, then maybe it’s time to start!

2. Golf’s Time to Shine

Who would have thought a global pandemic and lockdown would be the perfect catalyst for golf to return to its former glory as the most popular sport in Australia. With two-week waiting lists for available tee times, brimming car parks and frantic fairways becoming the norm at most courses, let’s hope that his timely boost sparks new investment and further innovations to our favourite industry. Arguably golf is probably the best candidate for a naturally socially distant sport, however, not only has golf demonstrated fast adaptation to enforcing social distancing regulations, but also did a tremendous job of execution on course. Now, I hear you saying, isn’t golf the most traditional and antiquated sport going around? Historically maybe, but thanks to these innovative short-term measures like contactless scorecards, staggered tee-times and cart limitation to keep us playing, it has resulted in an unexpected upturn in coaching, tee times and no doubt memberships. Some of these have reignited long lost player connection with the game and overall have provided the perfect activity to engage socially in a world where it has become increasingly hard to do so.

3. Who Needs a Rake?

For centuries the final insult after negotiating your ball out of a sneakily positioned sand trap was having to perfectly groom the gritty gravel to the content of a lurching greenskeeper. Well say goodbye to constant combing as rake-less bunkers are here to stay. Similarly, contactless bunkers also mean contactless greens where now you can collect your ball from the hole without physically touching the surface area of the hole, safe, convenient, clever! I think so.

4. Getting the balance right

COVID restrictions implications for the disabled can arguably make one feel more inhibited and vulnerable than most. When we are not allowed to go about our daily lives as normal, especially in aid of our physical and mental health, things can easily become unsettling and now more than ever it’s important to keep the mind sharp. Golf provides the perfect vehicle to distract from the challenges within around us. When I’m on the golf course, focussing hole by hole, shot by shot…I forget my disability and nothing else matters. I always feel better after a round of golf!

5. It’s time to make time

Have these words ever come out of your mouth: I WILL DO IT WHEN I HAVE MORE TIME… My last but perhaps most important highlight, now is the right time. What we should learn from this pandemic is what’s important to us is to make sure we have the experiences we envision for ourselves, and do it soon. Really, with the handicap system, golf does not discriminate. So, what’s your excuse?