The song of the birds, the ball entering the hole and the photographers’ flashes. These are the only noises we could hear Thursday in Yangju, South Korea, where professional golfers resumed competition.
Without spectators, silence is still one of the main characteristics of this era of sport after Covid-19. Just like the measures of distancing and the use of masks to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The players must therefore stay two meters from each other. Wearing a mask is compulsory outside of play time, and recommended during. It is strictly forbidden to touch the tee without gloves.
The Lakewood Country Club, northeast of Seoul, hosts the KLPGA Championship, the first high-level women’s golf tournament since February, when the American LPGA suspended its season.
Without live sports to get their teeth into it, American, Canadian and Australian televisions bought rights to broadcast the championship of South Korea, country of origin of many of the best golfers in the world.
“Usually, a lot of spectators come, more than in the United States. But I am satisfied just to be able to play,” said world N.6 Kim Sei-Young.
The 150 competitors entered were required to take their lunch break alone at their table, without their caddies or relatives.
“All golfers had to look in the same direction” to avoid chatter, said Wednesday the world No. 3 Park Sung-Hyun.
Anyone entering the golf course had to get the temperature and declare their identity.
Golf is not the first sport to resume in South Korea: the baseball and football leagues, very popular in the country, also resumed the previous week, again behind closed doors and with measures of distancing.
South Korea was one of the first countries affected by the coronavirus epidemic. But, thanks in particular to an extensive policy of screening people potentially carrying Covid-19, it is one of the countries that has been most successful in containing it.