What do professional golfers do in this coronavirus-induced hiatus?

That is right, they twiddle their heavily sanitised thumbs like the rest of us.

“I noticed on Twitter that there was a video of marble racing,” said Liam Johnston of a light-hearted social media pursuit that has captivated great swathes of a bored online world.

Give it a few days and head-scratching sports scribblers throughout the globe will be writing 800-word pieces on said marble racing in the absence of anything live to cover.

Like everybody, Johnston does not know what is round the corner. He started his 2020 campaign on the European Challenge Tour with a trio of missed cuts in South Africa.


An early exit meant no money, of course. The cancellation of his next scheduled event in Kenya, meanwhile, did not help the bank balance.

“I had waited until the last minute to book my flights to Kenya because of the changing circumstances even though I had a feeling it might be bad news,” said the Dumfries man of an event that was set to take place last week.

“Two days after I booked up, it got cancelled. I lost £600 as the insurance I had wasn’t going to cover this kind of eventuality. What can you do? People are going through a lot worse.”

Johnston, who lost his main tour card at the end of a rookie campaign in 2019, continues to adopt a philosophical approach to the situation.

The various tours keep everybody in the loop but updates and bulletins tend to be about as uplifting as hearing the four minute warning as tournament after tournament falls by the wayside. The domino effect is considerable.

“Frustrating is the word,” said the two-time Challenge Tour winner. “It’s just stopped us all from working basically.

“One of my mates runs a fish and chip shop in Dumfries and they are maybe starting up takeaway deliveries. I could help out and do a bit of that I suppose.

“I used to pick up balls at the driving range and I was a bar man at the same time. It doesn’t bother me if I need to do something else. What that will be though, I don’t know. Everything has happened so quickly.


“I’ve been trying to get a flat too and was quite well down the line on that but that’s a bit up in the air again with mortgages and things like that.”

Amid all the restrictions and social distancing measures, golf is still, by and large, being encouraged with the proper precautions.

Johnston is trying to go through his usual routines even if the routine of tournament play has been wiped out.

“I was playing a few other sports like football and badminton just to keep fit but now they have closed the big sports centre in Dumfries so I can’t do that,” added Johnston, as he tried to vary his exercise regime.

“Golf at least is one sport that the Government experts say we can still do. It’s quite hard, though.

“I’m trying to treat this as another off season. But the thing is you don’t know what you are preparing for and when. That’s tricky. I don’t know if I will play again in 2020.”

As a touring golfer, Johnston’s boredom threshold is relatively high.

Hanging about in airports, delayed flights, kicking around a hotel after a missed cut? It’s par for the course in this game of patience.

“People will be watching things on Netflix to pass the time but us golfers have probably watched everything,” he said. “We are now re-watching stuff.”