Making the most of golf in the downtime

Kevin Markham suggests a few ways to keep your golfing brain active during the current coronavirus crisis.
Making the most of golf in the downtime

Members of Craddockstown Golf Club in Co Kildare enjoy a round of golf last weekend while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Members of Craddockstown Golf Club in Co Kildare enjoy a round of golf last weekend while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kevin Markham suggests a few ways to keep your golfing brain active during the current coronavirus crisis.

Clean your clubs

Some golfers are fastidious about cleaning their clubs… most of us are not.

The time has come to correct that so get your clubs, a bowl of warm soapy water and a nailbrush (or old toothbrush) and get to work.

While you are at it, why not make your grips grip better!

Use some sandpaper on the rubber to remove dirt and oils, and to expose fresh rubber underneath.

Clean that trolley, too.

Practice regimes (that don’t annoy others)

You’re hardly going to chip from one side of the living room to the other as the family watches TV, but there are plenty of ways to keep your short game sharp.

In an indoor setting you’re limited to putting and chipping.

Figure out which elements need improvement and then find an appropriate space where you can do it without annoying others.

Endless practice of the same shot/stroke is boring — it’s one of the reasons so few of us do it — so find a way to make practice fun.

Involving someone else in the house is a good place to start or think about training the dog to retrieve the ball and bring it back to you… without leaving teeth marks.

Chip into a basket from different locations. Build your own crazy golf course.

Use a washing machine like Rory!

Strength, stretch, and flexibility

Introduce a stretching regime into your daily life to maintain and enhance your flexibility.

This is another great use of social media and channels such as YouTube.

Whether you want to improve your flexibility through yoga or enhance your strength (arms, legs, core) to gain both distance and balance on the course, you will find videos that show you the ropes and the correct way to do things.

If you put your mind to it, it will benefit your game significantly.

Try (also on Instagram and Facebook) and Golf Fitness Ireland (Facebook and


There are many fine Irish and international podcasts you can subscribe to.

Podcasts can be funny, irreverent, serious, informative or all four.

They are unlimited in terms of scope and time so they are far more insightful than you would otherwise experience.

Different podcasts have different approaches but you will learn more about the game, its history, the Tours and the people and places involved than through any other channel.

Two recent podcasts prove the point.

No Laying Up sat down with Peter Kostis (the former CBS Sports golf analyst) who gave a blistering insider’s view on the ‘rule bending’ of Patrick Reed.

From an Irish perspective, a recent podcast on Paddy Talks (on Spotify and focused on Irish Golf Tourism at the PGA Show in Orlando.

“The focus is on all things golf,” says Pádraig Lynch, who launched the podcast in 2019.

“I love the whole golf industry really and more so the people within it.

The podcast highlights the great work being done by clubs around the country, as well as the governing bodies’ efforts to grow the game and the Trojan work done to support the amateur scene.

Other Irish podcasts include Newstalk’s Golf Weekly, the NI Golf Channel Podcast (Soundcloud) and the GUI Podcast (Soundcloud). Shane O’Donoghue, the broadcaster and host of CNN’s ‘Living Golf’ launched his podcast on Sunday: Shane O on the Radio is available on Soundcloud.

The NI Golf Channel Podcast is four years old and, not surprisingly, focuses on golf north of the border.

With the Irish Open held in Ulster twice in that time, as well as last year’s British Open, there is plenty of interest for golfers across the island.

“We have always wanted to try and treat things in a lighthearted fashion,” says Paul Kelly, one of the podcast’s two presenters (alongside Maurice Jay).

“It’s only a game after all. We have covered both amateur and pro events, and we have made a real effort to include ladies golf.”

Social media

If you are a golfer and you are already on social media then you may well be following the big name tour pros… several of whom have recently taken to Twitter and Instagram to post videos.

Some are just messing around but others offer practice drills and tips.

Our own Pádraig Harrington has been busy on Twitter, showing off some short game and bunker skills.

Luke Donald has also started to post videos: He gives tips on chipping while standing in the corridor of his home, proving that you don’t need to be outside to practice.

If you’re not on social media, and you actively avoid it, maybe now is the perfect time to dip your toe in the water.

You’ll quickly discover that it’s not just populated by people posting pictures of their dinner, their dog, or their darling kids.

There are some good golf discussions on there.

Failing that, you’ll find lots of photographs and videos of beautiful golf courses.

One recommendation though: limit the amount of time you spend in the social media world: there are better things to be doing in life!


In the same vein as above, you will find a world of golf instruction and reviews on YouTube.

Reading instruction tips on the page of a golf magazine is never easy… especially when you can watch a video online, pause it, replay it and copy it.

There are literally hundreds of pros and coaches on there dishing out tips and advice.

Look around: You’re bound to find one who you like.

There are plenty of destination/golf course reviews too.

Read a book

There are so many golf books to choose from.

There are instructional books, travel books, ‘inside the ropes’ type books and general history books.

It is difficult to recommend one over others but if you do some research online you’ll find Mark Frost’s The Match, John Feinstein’s Caddy For Life, Lawrence Donegan’s Four Iron in the Soul, and Preferred Lies by Andrew Grieg are nearly always mentioned.

And those are just general reading.

For travel, you can’t go wrong with Tom Coyne’s A Course Called Ireland.

The next trip

Start planning your next golf trip.

At least going online to look at destinations and golf courses will relieve some tension and help lift your spirits.

If you are planning a golf trip (or any holiday for that matter) consider staying in Ireland. Irish golf courses, like all other businesses, are being hammered by Covid-19, so bear that in mind.

We are blessed with beautiful places to visit and superb golf courses.

When life returns to some semblance of normality, golf clubs, resorts and hotels will have very attractive stay-and-play packages.

Keep an eye out because there will be serious bargains to be had.

Clear out

Whether they are in the attic, garage or boot of your car, it’s time to clear out the old golf clubs you have lying around.

Ask your golf club/pro if they can be used as part of a junior programme.

Support your club

Pros work incredibly hard and Covid-19 has led to Pro shops and driving ranges closing around the country.

You can support them today by purchasing a voucher for lessons — for yourself or a loved one — which can then be used later in the year.


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