PAWING, jabbing and poking away at a laptop can be a funny way to earn a living.

There are days, for instance, when this scribe’s gently tinkling digits will serenely glide across the keys like Richard Clayderman lightly fingering his ivories as I blissfully compose sentences and paragraphs with the smiling nonchalance of Angela Lansbury gleefully clattering out a leather-bound novel during the opening credits of an episode of Murder She Wrote.

On those other, pain-staking days, though, the writing process can be so laborious and cumbersome it feels like I’m actually hewing each individual letter out of a clump of rock and wearily hauling them on to my computer’s Microsoft Word document like some panting, gasping labourer heaving the foundation stones of an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Winkling out a weekly column can be a slog at the best of times. For those of you reading it, I presume, it’s equally as arduous. Doing it with golf in virtual lockdown due to the coronavirus, however, will probably descend into an exercise of elaborate padding that was once the reserve of a seamstress fluffing up the shoulders of the jackets that Joan Collins used to wear in Dynasty.

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In doing my bit to aid the general war effort, I opted to work from home yesterday and ended up bouncing some column ideas off the kettle amid the myriad domestic distractions. “Will you please take your fingers away from the plug socket,” I shrieked with a startled jolt. And that was just to my wife, not my 14-month-old son. It’s going to be a sair auld fecht.

It’s certainly not business as usual in these extraordinary times. There’s plenty of doom and gloom flying around, most of it being spewed out in great industrial torrents by Piers bloomin’ Morgan. As for golf? Well, doom and gloom has been around for a while, with courses closing here and clubs going to the wall there for a variety of wide-sweeping reasons.

The onset of the pandemic, though, has added another layer of ruthless menace to some of the more embattled facilities. “It has been estimated that 25% of small businesses don’t re-open after a serious emergency and we don’t want golf clubs to be on that list,” read a statement in a series of guidelines sent out to golf club managers and secretaries last week.

It’s a sobering prospect, though, and one that, no doubt, will become a reality amid this period of uncertainty and worry which tees-up more questions than answers. A gentle wander out on the golf course during the bright conditions yesterday morning must have felt like a pleasant sanctuary far removed from all the bawlings on 24-hour panic-vision about lockdowns and life behind a portcullis.

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Fresh air, tranquil open space and, if you’re in a more wayward grouping, plenty of social distancing as Doogie clumps off to recover a slice, Ronnie sprauchles over to salvage a shank and Davey dodders back to the tee. What’s not to savour?

One of the no-nos in the current climate is touching your face. For this correspondent, at least, that can be a hellishly tricky thing to avoid given that my futile golfing exertions lead to me spending a lot of time with my head buried in my hands as another inexplicable, flabbergasting shot skitters woefully into self-isolation.

Our hands are our enemies, say the experts. Funnily enough, plenty of golfers will agree with that statement as they stand over a dinky, downhill chip and display about as much lightness of touch as a gorilla at the height of the mating season.

Despite all the agonising that golf can induce, the challenges, the charm and the camaraderie of this great game, particularly for the large, loyal and longer-in-thetooth legions of its significant elderly population, remain good for body and mind. With a few behavioural, health-conscious modifications before, during and after a round, it can still provide a much-needed antidote – and some much-needed escapism – from the current tumult.

There will, understandably, be many thinking twice about heading out for a routine round. Others will carry on regardless. Golfers are great creatures of habit, after all, but those habits are going to be sorely tested in the days, weeks and months ahead. How the club game emerges from this is anybody’s guess. The important thing, of course, is that you and yours look after each other. And if you have any column ideas, feel free to get in touch…


Glasgow Times:

TALK of golf’s £183million Premier Golf League at the weekend, with Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm becoming the latest big-name players to indicate their lack of interest, appears all very trivial in the current situation.

The enforced global hiatus won’t have much financial impact on the game’s moneysoaked superstars but life at the coalface of the pro game is not going to be easy for those trying to secure some kind of foothold in a business that is competitive, unforgiving and expensive.

Professional golf at just about every level has been forced to standstill. The bank balances of those trying to make a living from it won’t be doing much either.