By Bella Kaguyutan
Pictured left to right: William Liguori, Connor Walls, Caleb Hewitt, Ryan deLeon, Ashleigh Louie, Sarah Meklir, Ella Raley. Image Source: Bob de Leon.
Throughout the past year, sports from local to pro have taken a major hit. This year, spring sports across the country return after canceled or heavily modified seasons last year.
In Howard County, fall sports are starting well past their typical start date. Along with all other Hammond High School sports, golf has had many limitations put into place.
Prior to COVID-19, both boys and girls golf teams would meet at least once per week. They would also play every team within the county sending four boys and four girls to each match. This season rather than the typical four, only two players from each team are being sent to each match.
Like all sports within Howard County, the golf team is playing far fewer matches in comparison to a regular season. Since only one team is permitted onto the course at a time this season, practices are limited to once a week at the driving range and one match per week.
The world has been in disarray for the past year but as more people are getting vaccinated, some semblance of normalcy is returning. With this, hopefully, the return of normal school and extracurriculars comes.
In hopes of next season, Mr. Osborne, the head coach of both golf teams, says, “I would love for us to return to the old match and practice format.” A typical season for the golf team would include playing each opposing team in the county a week with once-a-week practice matches.
With such a strange season due to COVID-19, it has presented unique challenges towards the golf team. When asked about these challenges, Mr. Osborne said, “In some ways, it’s like COVID-19 has had the least and most impact on golf at the same time. Of all the HCPSS fall sports, golf is definitely the one where players can be the most socially distanced. However,” Coach Osborne went on to add, “this has increased the amount of golf the general public is playing and decreased playing time for high school teams.”
Despite a lack of time on the course, the team has gotten off to a strong start, especially the boys’ team according to Mr. Osborne. This new and foreign format has made it difficult for players to improve their skills. Due to a modified season scores do not count towards records, but the boy’s team has tied the previous season’s wins.
Since golf can be played safely while socially distanced, there’s been a rise in those interested in playing golf. After being shut down, many courses are trying to make up for lost revenue. With so many people on the courses, HCPSS golf teams aren’t able to play or practice nearly as much as in previous years.
Around the country, there has been a large uptick in the golf industry over the past year. The National Golf Foundation has performed a study that shows a 20% increase in rounds played in August 2020 in comparison to previous years. After spending months in lockdown, people wanted to get back outdoors.
After over a year of the world being shut down, players are happy to be back. When asked about the season thus far, Cal Hewitt, captain of the boy’s team, says “I haven’t seen these guys and girls in what seems like forever so it’s great being able to hangout/practice with them.”