Golf is still prohibited in Massachusetts, and its golfers are getting restless

Sunrise on golf green at The Country Club in Brookline

The Country Club in Brookline is currently closed for play, as are all courses in Massachusetts.

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This is the third piece in a five-part Bamberger Briefly series about people returning to golf. You can read the first installment, on the benefits of golf’s new safety measures, here, and the second, on golf in Minnesota, here.

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Courses are reopening at a fast and furious pace now, and even the holdout states in New England, a national beacon for stubbornness, will hear the odd mating calls of our game before too long.

“Fore right!”

“Sit down!”

“You IDIOT.” (Self-directed.)

“Good?”

Years ago, I played golf with a co-founder of Staples named Tom Stemberg. Stemberg loved golf, he read newspapers and he played quickly. A good starting point. He was a proud member of Kittansett, in Marion, Mass. (Dom DiMaggio was a member, too, but Geraldo Rivera, who lived on the course, was not. Kittansett was open — to a point.) I asked Stemberg why they started the Staples chain in Massachusetts. “Because New Englander workers have a superior work ethic,” he said.

That might be true, but watch what happens when golf courses finally reopen again in Massachusetts. It’ll be like the first day of the old Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, when everybody and their mother would call in sick.

Golfers around the country have returned to golf courses, as coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.

Some of golf’s new safety rules could actually make the game better

By: Michael Bamberger

My first newspaper job after college was on Martha’s Vineyard and I lived for a while near the sublime nine-hole Edgartown golf course, super-private in summer and wide open the rest of the year. I can recall playing golf there on a slip-in basis on raw spring mornings when there was still ice and snow in the shady nooks of the course’s bunkers.

Golf always blooms late in New England, but were this a normal May the courses would be in full swing by now, and now they are not. The U.S. Open, by the way, is going to The Country Club, in Brookline, Mass., in 2022. Even mid-June can be cool there. Ben Crenshaw played in the U.S. Junior Amateur at The Country Club in 1968 and years later he could recall the pleasure of putting on a sweater for golf in the cool of early-morning. The things we carry.

I loved that Edgartown golf course — it was proper. There’s also an excellent public course on the Vineyard called Farm Neck. Bill Clinton used to shoot 86 there on a regular basis. Yep. 86. Ask him.

Mike Miller, right, with friend Jeff Leidel during an October round a couple of years ago.

Golf is back in Minnesota, and its rugged, rabid golfers are loving it

By: Michael Bamberger

I received an email the other day from a man named Mickey Herron, a longtime club pro in Massachusetts and the coach of the golf team at Bentley, a business school in Waltham, Mass. In time-honored New England tradition, Herron’s letter was an articulate rant about the ineptitude in the Massachusetts State House, in this case as it relates to Gov. Charlie Baker’s unwillingness to reopen (so far) the Bay State’s 400 or so courses. “Needless to say, civil disobedience in on the rise,” Herron wrote. “I love my fellow golfers!”

This is a recent headline from The Boston Globe: “You can golf in 47 states, and Massachusetts isn’t one of them.” The word on the street, if such a phrase is still meaningful, is that golf will start in Massachusetts in about two weeks. The Bay State golfers will believe it when they see it.

Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael_Bamberger@GOLF.com.

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Michael Bamberger

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Michael Bamberger writes for GOLF Magazine and contributes to GOLF.com. He also participates in podcasts, primarily in tandem with Alan Shipnuck. Earlier in his career, he was a senior writer for Sports Illustrated for 23 years and a reporter on The Philadelphia Inquirer for nine years before that. He has written a half-dozen books about golf and other subjects. His magazine work has been featured in multiple editions of The Best American Sports Writing. He holds a U.S. patent on a utility golf club called the E-Club. In 2016, he was given the Donald Ross Award by the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the organization’s highest honor.