How risky is golf during the coronavirus compared to other activities?

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Playing golf was rated one of the least risky activities during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Playing golf is safer than playing basketball during the coronavirus pandemic, four public health experts say. Golf is safer than going bowling, too. 

Golf is not safer than tennis. 

The MLive website recently asked four public health experts to assess the risk 36 activities pose to spreading the coronavirus, and golf was deemed one of the least risky – but not the least, and not even the least risky sport. 

The experts rated the activities on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most risky and 1 being the least, and MLive averaged the numbers. The least risky activity was “playing tennis,” followed by  “getting takeout from a restaurant,” each scoring a one. The riskiest activity was “bars,” followed by “large music venues,” each scoring a nine. 

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Golf was rated a three and was 31st out of the 36 activities. Following golf were “libraries and museums,” “going for a walk, run or bike ride with others,” “getting fuel” and tennis and restaurant takeout. 

Golf, the story reported, recorded a low score because it’s outside, it’s a non-contact sport and it features small groups of people. The risk goes up a bit when those people meet other people on the course.

“Just play golf, say hi and bye, and go on your merry way,” Dr. Nasir Husain, the Henry Ford Macomb medical director for infection prevention, told MLive. “Don’t come close to each other.”

Tennis, the story wrote, brings “little concern.” “Spacing is part of the game, it’s typically outdoors and there’s only two to four people on a court,” the story said. “While some sports activities cause concern for the health experts, tennis is not one of them.”

The experts told MLive the numbers will drop if safety measures are followed, and rise if they aren’t. 

“Until we have a vaccine, we are going to have to move forward with risk reduction strategies,” Dr. Matthew Sims, the Beaumont Health director of infectious disease research, told MLive. “Because you can’t keep the economy on hold forever, you can’t keep peoples’ lives on hold forever.”

The ranking of the activities:

9: Bars; large music concerts

8: Sports stadiums; gyms; amusement parks; churches; buffets

7: Basketball; public pools; schools

6: Casinos; restaurants, indoor seating; playgrounds; hair salons, barbershops; pontoon boat rides; movie theaters

5: Dinner parties at a house; airplanes; backyard barbecues; malls; beaches; bowling 

4: Dentist’s offices; walking in a busy downtown; offices; doctor’s office waiting rooms; eating outside at a restaurant

3: Getting groceries; camping; hotels; golfing; libraries and museums

2: Going for a walk, run or bike ride with others; getting fuel 

1: Getting takeout from a restaurant; playing tennis

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor