Golfer at sunrise

Spring has (nearly) sprung, and your golf clubs are calling your name. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has closed even the wide-open spaces of some golf courses, and social distancing demands that we remain a lob shot away from each other.

Evidently, the golf bug is no match for COVID-19.

It’s a strange new world when Tom Brady leaves the Patriots and the Masters is played over the Christmas holiday. The latter is just one of a million rumored scenarios, but who knows?

Anyway, you’re jonesing for golf, so what to do?

Here are nine things you can do to pass the time and scratch the itch:

Hit balls in a park: There’s nothing that says “social distancing” like taking your shag bag to a field and hitting balls in solitude. It’s not a substitute for teeing it up with friends, but you won’t get sick unless you develop the shanks, a malady for which there is no cure. In that case, self-quarantine is critical. You do not want to pass on the shanks to your buddies. On second thought, maybe you do.

Overdose on David Feherty: With no live golf to show, Golf Channel will dust off all its installments of “Feherty.” Even if you’ve seen them before, they’re worth a repeat watch. I wouldn’t call Feherty a great interviewer, but guests trust him and he has a knack for drawing out great stories with his unique brand of wit and humor. If there’s one thing everybody needs right now, it’s a good laugh.

Read a good golf book: I just finished Michael Bamberger’s excellent “The Second Life of Tiger Woods” and Kevin Robbins’ “The Last Stand of Payne Stewart” and would recommend either. It’s a good time to dive into an instructional book, too. Manuel de la Torre’s “Understanding the Golf Swing” is terrific, as is Bobby Clampett’s “The Impact Zone” or anything by Bob Rotella. Other timeless reads are “The Match” by Mark Frost and “Ben Hogan” by James Dodson.

Practice putting: Can you think of a better indoor golf exercise than practicing with the flat stick on your living room carpet? I recommend purchasing a putting alignment mirror – they range in price from $16 to $50 online – and working on your alignment and stroke. Disclaimer: It’s no guarantee you’ll make more putts when you get on real greens.

Clean your clubs and golf bag: OK, you can only do this once, but you can do it well. Get all that year-old dirt out of the grooves in your irons, wash your grips with mild soap and water and make sure there’s not a six-month-old banana rotting in a pocket in your bag.

Work out: You can get in great golf shape over the next six or eight weeks by doing leg and core muscle strengthening exercises. Just Google “golf workouts” and you’ll see tons of websites, programs and videos. Or just get outside and walk the dog. Anything is better than nothing.

Gaming: By sheer coincidence, I purchased a PlayStation 4 and The Golf Club 2019 a few weeks ago. After struggling to break 90 from the forward tees for a few days, I got the hang of the controller and now I am smashing par from the tips at TPC Deere Run. Steve Stricker has got nothing on me.

YouTubing: Studying the swings of the greatest players in the game won’t turn you into Sam Snead II, but it sure beats watching reruns of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” According to one study, Sergio Garcia has the most popular swing on YouTube, with nearly 9 million views. Next, in order, are Tiger Woods, Luke Donald, Ben Hogan, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Really, Luke Donald? Jack Nicklaus, BTW, comes in at No. 10.

Plan a golf vacation: Eventually, things will get back to semi-normal. Airline prices have dropped faster than you can say “Dow Jones” and golf resorts worldwide will be clamoring for business once COVID-19 is contained. Undoubtedly, there will be some great deals. Be sure to purchase fully refundable tickets, just in case.

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