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The Hard Reset of 2020


Peter McCormick

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Looking back a couple of months to BCV (Before Coronavirus), the thought that 200 million Americans and more around the world would be hitting the pause button and staying at home for a month or more would have been ludicrous. Absurd. No way.

Fast forward and here we are.  I’m sure I am not the only one who wakes up from another restless sleep to hope that this is just a bad dream. Of course, it is not.

The horrors of this pandemic are yet to be felt by most of us. Thankfully we work in a fairly low people-density occupation so the health impact upon those in the golf industry might be less than others. But everyone views this type of thing in the abstract — something that happens to others — until it hits close to home. Then it gets real, fast.

Everyone views this type of thing in the abstract — something that happens to others — until it hits close to home. Then it gets real, fast.

In the interim, while waiting for the world to right itself, we are Staying at Home. It’s no big functional change for me as I have worked at home for 25+ years, but it’s a sea change for many. No doubt there’s an underlying layer of anxiety about our near- and long-term futures, but I can’t help but feel this time of (even forced) family togetherness, home cooking, books, jigsaw puzzles, Scrabble and streaming movies will have a lasting benefit.

In many ways our society BCV was like a runaway train of over-scheduling, family distancing, meals on the fly and a hamster-wheel pursuit of more, bigger and better. Happiness and material satiety were around the next corner or above the next step, when I get this or am able to buy or do that.

Our society BCV was like a runaway train of over-scheduling, family distancing, meals on the fly, and a hamster-wheel pursuit of more, bigger and better.

This pandemic has forced us to do a hard reset, our BCV lives grinding to a halt. Suddenly time has taken on a less urgent dimension. We plan meals and daily activities rather than leave them to happenstance. I would wager that prior to our new Stay at Home reality, few families with two working parents and kids under 20 would eat more than one or two meals together during any week. If that has changed, it’s a change for the better. In my belief and experience, families that eat together stay together.

Whether we realize it or not, we are being forced to look at “unnecessaries” like fashion, recreational shopping and personal indulgences like hair color and manicures with a more discerning eye. That’s another good thing... except for the economy, which will have to adapt as well.

Beyond the near-term medical emergency, the economic crisis will have much longer legs. Many businesses and industries will simply not recover, including less well-heeled golf facilities and hand-to-mouth Mom-and-Pops. Hey, maybe even TurfNet won't survive in our current form, should membership and advertising go south (so keep those renewals, signups and advertising orders coming!). All businesses are going to have to rework themselves to fit the New Reality.

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Will there be a GIS in the future? Who knows? Jon Kiger and I laugh when we recall an exhibitor at GIS a few years back who declined to shake hands, instead saying, "Sorry, I'm not sharing this year." Seems now like he was eerily prescient.

The big unknowns at this point are how far and wide this pandemic is going to go, and when things will return to “normal”. None of us knows the answer to the former, but I’m afraid “normal” as we knew it will forever be changed. There are dire consequences in that for many, but also some positives. If this Hard Reset of 2020 forces us to reassess living our lives at breakneck speed in pursuit of more, to return to a simpler era with fewer needs and more family and personal time, we as a society will be better off.

For the golf industry, maybe golfers will return with a newfound sense of what's crucial to the enjoyment of the game, and what is merely fluff not worth bitching about any more. At that point, the golf business will be better off too.

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These are wise words to think about, Peter, and that comment coming from someone who ran that race for 40 years.  In the 5 or so since, I probably could have slowed even more, but I chose to continue as a fast walker instead of a runner.  I am walking very slowly these days, and look forward to the time when that will once again be a choice and not a mandate.  I wish everyone to stay well and do the same.

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