The fall-out from the pandemic has impacted on lives around the world. In his latest blog, Carbon’s European Tour ambassador Richie Ramsay reflects on the challenges posed for a nomadic, professional golfer since he headed for home in advance of the UK going into lockdown back in March.
When we rushed home after competing in tournaments in the Middle East most guys suspected the virus would be a major issue. But I’m not sure any of us realised it would escalate quite so rapidly.
Obviously, the pandemic has shaped every walk of life and even with the vaccines coming on-stream I suspect the fall-out will be with us for a long time to come.
As professional golfers, we have probably been more fortunate than many businesses. At least we have been able to get back up and running to a certain extent.
During the lockdown back in March, if someone had told us we’d be back playing golf at the end of July you’d have bitten their hand off.
I have had to be cautious because I have one or two underlying issues, and I also know a few guys on Tour whose partners were pregnant, so going into high-risk areas would have been an issue.
Job security is a huge thing in most people’s mind at the moment and golfers are no different from anyone else. I think the European Tour and their chief medical officer Andrew Murray got it right by confirming our status for next season when the scale of the pandemic became apparent.
Andrew and the team also put in place a plan which mitigated a lot of the risks with bubbles, strict testing protocols and procedures. He deserves a lot of credit. We were also given guidance on travelling to tournaments to reduce the amount of contact.
All that gave the players a degree of confidence going back into an adapted schedule. The Tour made it as safe as possible. It was never going to be 100% but thankfully the record has been very good.
Obviously there have been high profile issues in football, in particular, but golf is fortunate in being an individual, non-contact sport. That makes it far easier to manage. The Tour adopted a buddy system to reduce scope for close proximity and that has been effective.
It has been a strange and at times frustrating year on a personal basis. I don’t know if I can lay all the blame at the door of Covid-19 but staying healthy for myself, Angela and our daughter Olivia has been the priority.
I have played some really good stuff along the way but never really hit top form. I feel my game plateaued this year. My best was probably reserved for a top 20 finish at the BMW PGA Championship won by Tyrrell Hatton. Wentworth is a course that suits me. It is a proper golf course that tests all your skills against a traditionally strong field.
But golf hasn’t really been my main concern this year. So my plan now is to step away from the game until January and work out where I need to get to before heading to the Middle East tournaments.
It’s difficult to plan ahead but I know that is the case in so many lines of business.
Living in Edinburgh, even practice and gym work has been a challenge and I have been trying to limit any work travel. You have to be very careful, maintaining social distance but still trying to get your work done.
On the plus side, the golf course provides a relatively safe environment and I’m sure it has helped a lot of people this year, both physically and mentally.
You’re getting out in the fresh air and the mental health benefits of golf should not be underestimated.
Hopefully the impact of the vaccines and their roll-out will help restore at least an element of ‘normality’ and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and, in particular, a happy and healthy New Year.”
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