Golf teams thankful for opportunity to play during COVID-19

The women's golf team practices at Colbert Hills Golf Course on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

In a season of uncertainty the men’s and women’s golf teams are getting adjusted to life and competitive golf during the COVID-19 pandemic. Players for both teams have been encouraged to stay inside a “bubble” as much as possible.

With many players on the men’s team being international students and many on the women’s team living with other athletes, keeping players healthy and safe remains the main focus for golf. Both coaching staffs have tried to encourage players to look at the opportunity they have and do everything they can to stay healthy.

To do this the teams have focused more on the positive aspects of this year and have tried to block out the negative.

“They have to kind of change their habits really, they have to stay in their bubble as much as possible right now,” men’s golf head coach Grant Robbins said. “They can’t have much of a social life right now.”

Riley County has documented more than 1,500 COVID-19 cases since March, and breakouts have been frequent in Manhattan since the beginning of the semester in August.

Luckily, golf is not a high contact sport and many preventative measures have been taken simply by using the space it provides. As a result, the day-to-day activities for the teams have not changed much.

“Social distancing is pretty inherent with what we do anyway,” Robbins said. “Our meetings are different, everyone’s indoors and wears a mask, we try to meet as much possible outside.”

Both coaching staffs encouraged the use of good hygiene, maintaining diligence with daily tasks, wiping down surfaces and disinfecting carts after each use.

For the student athletes to continue to play, both teams are making sure that every preventative measure is taken, whether that is on or off the course.

“All you can do is everything you can do,” women’s golf head coach Kristi Knight said. “They have opportunities that golfers in the PAC 12, ACC, Big 10 and the American Conference don’t have.”

The Big 12 was one of the few power five conferences that elected to play fall sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.