As the international battle to defeat the coronavirus continues, the value of sport in our lives has been the subject of serious consideration. Against the backdrop of mounting fatalities, the overwhelmed health and support services, and varying degrees of social restrictions, it is unsurprising that sport might be dismissed as an irrelevance at this time. Ironically, however, the value of exercise to our wellbeing, both mental and physical, has been thrust into sharp relief as a result of the struggle to manage and defeat this deadly virus.
Within the context of strategic measures like social distancing, regular hand-washing and restricted movement, it is significant that controlled physical exercise is not only permitted but actively encouraged. The advantages of maintaining physical health are obvious, but maybe less prominent is the value of mental fitness as a benefit of daily physical activity.
While sports like golf and football are, in terms of basic human survival, insignificant, it is also true that the value of sport features on the ever-growing list of things in our ‘normal’ lives that will never again be taken for granted. Whether as participant, as spectator, or both, there is an understandable clamour for the revival of sport in its various forms, possibly because this is likely to signal an imminent return to some degree of normality.
The importance of golf, for instance, at this time of crisis should not be too readily dismissed. When the green shoots of sporting activity do appear, they will inevitably be associated with an optimism that the pain and sadness could be nearing some form of conclusion.
It is also encouraging that a leading figure like Keith Pelley, European Tour Chief Executive, has conveyed both cautious optimism for the future generally, and a steely determination about continuing the fight “to stop the spread of coronavirus”.
Regarding the European Tour schedule, Pelley has underlined his encouraging perspective: “I am genuinely hopeful that, from now on, the information in relation to our 2020 schedule will be positive. We now have 14 weeks with no tournaments, but those three-and-a-half months are also the time where the global situation may well begin to show signs of improvement. There are already discussions around the easing of restrictions in several countries and everyone is optimistic that these can continue. This window also gives us the opportunity to continue working behind the scenes on a variety of scheduling options, which would allow us to provide a busy calendar of golf to enjoy when we do resume.”
While we look forward to emerging from the shadow of this global crisis, and again enjoying some of life’s simple pleasures, like playing golf or watching our favourite football team, it’s encouraging that some Algarve golf clubs are taking advantage of the enforced closure of courses in Portugal.
At Espiche golf in the western Algarve, for instance, safe, routine maintenance continues on a daily basis. While nature takes most of the credit for the welcome appearance of green shoots across Algarve courses, a small technical house on the Espiche course has just been painted green and now blends beautifully and discreetly into the natural environment.
Such largely unseen efforts: from hospital wards to research labs, and, yes, even golf courses are dedicated to creating a brighter future for us all. Despite the tragedy of so many casualties, there must be hope for a world characterised by an appreciation of what really matters, and even why sport might continue to make our lives just a wee bit better.
Tom Callan is Editor of Clubhouse Algarve magazine
By TOM CALLAN