Golfing during a pandemic: Not much of a difference for Alabama's Polly Mack

Audra Phillips
The Tuscaloosa News
11/7/20 WGO Liz Murphey Fsll Collegiate Classic
Alabama women's golfer Polly Mack
Photo by Haley Peterson

Playing golf before and during a pandemic look similar to most people. Miles of green course, fresh air and distance between competitors.

After the University of Alabama campus was shut down in March, women's golfer Polly Mack returned to her home in Germany. With the threat of Covid-19 dissipating, Germany was completely reopened by the time the United States starting shutting down.

"For me, things opened up again I think beginning of May, so I was able to practice with a little bit of restriction in Germany," said Mack.

The UA women's golf team has athletes from around the world: Germany, Italy and Norway are represented on the roster. That's why weekly zoom meeting were essential for the team.

"It was great to see each other virtually, talk to each other and see how we are all doing. I think that’s what kept us motivated," Mack said.

With the return to campus in the fall, most of Mack's classes are online. She has been able create a schedule centered around her practice.

Photography from the practice round of the Blessings Collegiate Invitational on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark.

Photo by Beth Hall

A typical day for Mack includes practicing on her own for two hours beginning at 7 a.m., working out during the day and schoolwork in the evening. In addition, she practices 18 to 20 hours a week with the UA golf team.

"It is just so much easier to get out here in the morning already having the energy, and I like practicing on my own," said Mack.

The SEC announced in August that it would hold a limited fall season for men's and women's golf. Teams would be able to compete in three conference-only events.

Mack, a senior, competed in all three fall events for UA, with her best finish a tie for sixth in the Blessings Intercollegiate in Arkansas in October.

"I think we might be the most precautious team in the country," said UA women's coach Mic Potter.

With hand sanitizer before and after picking up flags, wearing masks and always maintaining social distance, Potter wants to keep his team healthy so it can continue to compete.

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Not much has changed for Mack, except for who she plays with. Instead of competing next to opponents, each team is required to play with their teammates.

"Usually you’re playing with the people that are close by around the leaderboard, but this time it was just like similar to qualifying where you play with your teammates," said  Mack.

The UA women currently have four tournaments scheduled in the spring semester before the SEC Championships in mid-April in Birmingham, but the schedule could change.