COVID Confessions: 10 golfers—in their own words—on how the pandemic has upended their lives and businesses

A living oral history of hardship, perseverance and optimism in the time of corona
May 05, 2020

The folk singer John Prine, who died of COVID-19 on April 7 at age 73, sang about the human condition for 50 years with honesty, grace and humor. Qualities we could use in abundance these days. I’ve been listening to Prine’s records almost daily since he passed away, looking for comfort and perspective in his uniquely American voice and soulful storytelling. The cruelty of the past two months has made this more difficult: The senseless loss of life to the virus, more than 70,000 to date, and the disruption to our lives, home confinement and more than 30 million jobless claims, has been grim, and golf has not been spared.

For weeks now, our writers have been talking to folks across the game who’ve had their lives and businesses impacted by the pandemic, attempting to understand the extent of the damage. It’s important to remember that even as the playing of golf begins to open up across the country, the ripple effects of this pandemic to the industry will continue to be felt. That’s why we believe it’s important to share some of these stories as a living oral history of this moment.

Among the 10 profiled here are a golfer who survived the virus; a new golf-course owner struggling to keep his employees safe and save his business; a caddie suddenly out of work; a golfer whose collegiate career was highjacked by cancer and then cut short by the virus. Within these first-person accounts are moments of hardship but also lessons in perseverance and perspective. The kind of sentiments John Prine might have written a song about. —Alan P. Pittman

Photographs were made by Alan P. Pittman during video chats. Graphic production by Ben Walton.