Alex Beach had been looking forward to April since capturing the PGA Professional Championship last spring at Belfair in Bluffton, South Carolina. As defending champion of golf’s largest all-professional national championship, there’s a Champions Dinner to host, a night for celebration.
But not this month.
Golf, like everything else, has hit the giant pause button. Mired in the COVID-19 pandemic, all dreams, dinners and the 53rd PGA Professional Championship presented by Cadillac, Club Car and OMEGA — originally scheduled for April 26-29, at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas — are on hold.
With the Championship, to say nothing of the nation’s golf season, postponed indefinitely, the 30-year-old PGA Assistant Professional at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, has more time on his hands. The “Stay at Home” order in many states is the new “normal.”
And while most of his work colleagues live in hard-hit New York, Beach is in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, at his seasonal residence. He’s been doing his best to stay in shape, even as Florida courses have been closed.
“Being a defending champion is fantastic and all that comes with that,” said Beach. “In times like this, . . this is bigger than golf. I’m fortunate that whenever we are able to hold the next tournament, I will be the defending champion. I do feel bad for the uncertainty for those who have qualified and are looking forward to it. I think safety is paramount.
“It is sad to see it in uncertainty, but hopefully in time, we can redo it, and everyone will get their chance to play.”
“Everything’s changed day by day,” said Beach. “Watching the news, you have to dissect what you want to believe. The reality is that I have a lot of friends in New York, who are in a far worse situation than we are in South Florida. I try to stay active as much as I can.”
Last year’s victory at Belfair gave Beach exemptions into six PGA Tour events. He also earned a Korn Ferry Tour card through Q-School this year. Prior to the pandemic, his last competition was Feb. 21, missing the cut in the Puerto Rico Open.
“I had planned for five more weeks of travel before the PPC,” said Beach. “That came to a screeching halt. I am lucky to be healthy where I am. I’m a little bored.”
“Right now, I’m doing all that is asked of us – not touching anything that I shouldn’t, washing my hands,” said Beach. “I work hard, I eat right, work out a lot and surround myself with successful people. One thing I’ve learn on tour is that you got to take care of your body. If you are not doing that, you’re getting lapped by the field.
Beach has advice for anyone – golfer or not – trying to deal with self-isolation.
“You can still eat great, go to the grocery store when it’s safe, get the right food and don’t sit on the couch all day. And, a little bit of stretching and a little bit of routine with your golf game can go a long way. This is a good time to work on your putting inside, or your chipping, or if you have got big enough space, your full swing.
Having navigated both life and golf hazards throughout his career, Beach is looking forward to this unusual time of isolation as his next step in self-improvement.
“You find things that you wouldn’t normally do in your busy day-to-day life. But now all of a sudden, that’s all on pause,” Beach said. “It’s a moment to reflect and pick the areas where I want to get better. It might be the mental game or psychology, or how to play. I’ve learned in traveling on tour, I now I have the time to do it. There’s so much out there and stay as busy as you can.”