While the title of this article is a highfalutin reference to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s classic novel, I solemnly vow that the content will be neither classy nor remotely intellectual.

Let me start off by saying how lucky I feel that in my area of southern Florida, our golf courses are still open. Spending hours walking around outside has served as an amazing distraction from the reality of these crazy times. 

That being said, the adjustments that are required to allow play to continue have fundamentally altered the game as we’ve come to know it. Let’s take a look at some of the more amusing changes.

Don’t touch the pin, er, noodle

As most of us are aware, recent changes to the rules of golf allow for putts to be holed with the pin in. Ostensibly changed to speed up play, I have found the rule to have the opposite effect. Inevitably your foursome cannot agree on pin preference, which leads to multiple removals and replacements on each hole. In a surprising perk to the pandemic, the pins must all stay in, thus speeding up play. 

To prevent people from having to reach into the hole to retrieve their balls, courses have gotten creative. One course I recently played has put small pieces of PVC pipe in each cup to keep the ball from sinking to the bottom. 

At my regular course, sections of blue swim noodles have been cut off and placed in the cups. The new rule is that any putt that contacts the foam protrusion is considered holed. This has led to a whole new addition to the golf lexicon. 

Frequently heard on our greens as of late: “You grazed/banged/swiped/tickled the noodle.” As if golf needed help being any more Freudian. 

No food and beverage service, no problem

For many, food and drink during and after golf are as important as the golf itself. Courses in our area have shut down their restaurants and bars in order to comply with local and state restrictions, which has led to golfers openly adopting a “BYOB” policy. 

While “sneaking” your own refreshments onto a golf course is a grand and storied tradition, any pretense of discretion has been summarily abandoned. I have personally witnessed Yeti coolers riding shotgun in carts. 

Until just a couple of weeks ago, many courses were still using caddies. I spoke with one such lad who told me that many members’ golf bags were feeling suspiciously heavier at the beginning of their rounds. The plus side is that the bags get lighter as the day goes on, and the golfers’ moods mysteriously improve as well. 

Don’t even attempt high fives and handshakes

Golfers have many skills. Some can launch a ball multiple football fields on target. Many golfers are snazzy dressers. And most are quite witty and fun to be around. 

One thing golfers can’t do? Execute an acceptable high five. If you don’t believe me, just Google “golf high fives.” Any cool points a golfer might earn after an epic shot would inevitably be wiped out by an extremely awkward celebration. Thankfully, due to socially distancing, golfers are now able to retain a bit more dignity. 

Also gone are the sweaty handshakes on the 18th green. No one, and I mean no one, misses those.

Briefly, in a misguided effort to curtail viral spread, we were encouraged to replace handshakes and high fives with the ever-so-graceful elbow bump. We should all be on our knees thanking the golf gods that this trend died a quick death. If you think a golfer-caddie high five is embarrassing, imagine them attempting to smoothly bump elbows in celebration. Careers could have been ended!

These are just a few examples of how golf has changed to adapt to these times. No one can know whether any of these changes are permanent or if we will return to golf exactly how we knew it, but one thing is certain: There are plenty more changes still to address, and likely plenty more to come, so check back in soon for another installment of “Golf in the Time of Covid-19.”

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Steve Reynolds

Steve Reynolds is a degenerate golf addict based in St. Petersburg Florida and a Stick and Hack contributor. Follow his blog and Instagram chronicling his uphill battle from a hack to a stick. Handicap index 5.4.