These 2 sporting grounds are a case-study for golf during Covid-19

family walks on golf course

On Tuesdays, Chastain Park Golf Course in Atlanta is a free, public green space for Atlanta residents.

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As Covid-19 continues to surge across the country, two completely unrelated locations — a golf course in Atlanta, Ga., and a minor league baseball stadium in Biloxi, Miss. — are serving as a fascinating juxtaposition and case-study on the role of golf during the pandemic

Every Tuesday until sometime in mid-August, Chastain Park Golf Course — located in Atlanta’s largest park — transitions from a widely played course into a public greenspace ripe with Atlanta residents walking, picnicking and relaxing. The idea to turn the course into a public space arose in June when the the course reopened after being shuttered for three months. The rationale behind the idea? By using the park as a greenspace, the public would go outside and exercise while still practicing appropriate social distancing measures.

“If you can do it in the birthplace of golf, we can do it here in Atlanta, Georgia,” District 8 Atlanta City Councilmember J.P. Matzigkeit told Matzigkeit was referencing the famed St Andrews Links in Scotland, which, on most Sundays, turns its course into a public space.

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While this decision has been approved by the Atlanta city council, a recent survey done by the National Golf Foundation (NGF) shows many golfers aren’t as keen on the idea. The NGF Survey found that 28% of golfers would be in support of using a local course as a cost-free, public park for one day a month. However, 54% responded that they were opposed to the idea, while 18% indicated that they were indifferent or unsure.

In a slightly different use of sporting grounds, the Biloxi Shuckers — double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers in Biloxi, Miss. — have turned their stadium, MGM Park, into a part-time nine-hole target course. The nine greens are all located in the outfield and those who sign up to play pay a $25 greens fee for the opportunity to hit two balls from each of the nine tee boxes situated all throughout the stadium — including home plate, party decks and the concourse.

Each hole has a white circle that, if the ball is it hit into, is considered par. A smaller red circle within the original white circle is considered a birdie, and a shot that lands anywhere else is a bogey or double-bogey, depending on how far off target your shot lands.

“We wanted to offer something unique with this crossover between baseball and golf that people can’t get anywhere else and allow our community to enjoy this great facility while we await Minor League Baseball’s return,” Shuckers General Manager Hunter Reed noted. 

While these two venues are serving as models for the flexibility and accommodating nature of golf, it will be exciting to see if any similar venues follow suit.

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