One saving grace for Leona Maguire is that she lives in the countryside.
Surrounded by fields and nature, it’s easy to avoid people outside her immediate family and social distancing isn’t an issue. It also means that she can hit golf balls to her heart’s content without disturbing anyone else.
“We’ve a field out the back so I’ve been hitting golf balls into that, hitting a few buckets of balls and then putting on my wellies to go collect them and then hitting them again”, Maguire told Pundit Arena.
“You have to make the best of it, it’s back to what I was doing in some of the winter months when the weather got too bad and the golf courses were closed with frost.
“I’m going back to what I did 10 years ago! It’s nice to live in the countryside where we have fields and we have green grass and you can spend a few hours outside without having to go out into crowds.”
This isn’t an easy time for anyone. People’s lives are at risk, many have lost jobs and there is no way of knowing when this crisis will end. Sport has well and truly been put on the backburner and understandably, it’s not very high on the list of priorities right now.
However, for athletes, they must continue to train and maintain fitness although they have no clue when their next competition will be. Earlier this month, Maguire had a difficult decision to make, leave for the US to continue preparations and training, ready for the next leg of the LPGA Tour, or remain with her family.
She chose the latter.
“I was supposed to travel back to the States two weeks ago and I was humming and hawing and getting advice from different people and left it as late as I could and then we had three events cancelled so I decided to stay put.
“Obviously the US travel ban was coming in so I had another two days to decide ‘do I leave, do I stay?’ and then I decided to stay. It was not something I wanted to risk travelling right now.
“I can do everything I need to do right here and it’s nice to be around family. There’s so much uncertainty, it’s nice to be a familiar setting, I didn’t want to get stuck in a hotel room somewhere.”
While many will be getting frustrated and restless from being at home constantly, for Maguire, it’s a nice change of pace given the vast amount of travelling she does.
“It’s the first time I’ve been home for [Mother’s Day] in six years, since I was doing the Leaving and my brother is doing the Leaving right now.
“I’m trying to do my prep and then he’ll pop his head around the corner ‘do you remember when you did this in maths or do you remember when you did this in biology?’ and I’ll go ‘well that was five or six years ago but I’ll try!’
“I don’t get to come home all that much in the last few years so it’s nice to be home, I wish it was under better circumstances but it’s nice to be home any time you get.”
She is very aware, however, that this is not a break in which to relax and catch up with all her loved ones. As much as she would love to spend time with her grandmothers, Maguire must maintain her distance for their safety and protection and she hopes that others will follow suit.
“Everything is on hold, people’s jobs are on hold, our careers are on hold, but I think it’s just about making the best of the situation. Looking after those around you, staying safe, staying at home.
“Look out for those around ye. I’ve two grannies that are 85 and the other is 93, I haven’t been able to visit them, it’s just calling them every day, checking in, seeing how they’re doing.
“My granny is 93 but she doesn’t consider herself to be old! She doesn’t consider herself to be at risk. We’ve set up WhatsApp for her so everybody can call her. People have been going to the back window to her and talking through the window but we have to do it on the phone now because she can’t hear all that well and everyone ends up shouting.
“It’s a strange time but Irish people tend to adapt quite well to adversity so we’ll be able to make the best of it.
“We’ll get through it together, that’s the thing, we’re all in the same situation. The sooner everyone sticks to all the guidelines, the sooner we’ll get through this.
“As sporting figures, we’re sometimes looked upon as the heroes in these situations but the heroes are all the doctors and nurses and all the hospital staff, supermarket workers and everyone else who is keeping everything going and keeping people safe.”
One major positive that has come from this situation is people from all walks of life are sharing their skills and praising each other via social media.
Maguire has been sent numerous videos of young children wanting to follow in her footsteps and what has brought a smile to her face is the sheer competitiveness in the back garden regardless of gender. It’s especially pleasing given the current 20×20 campaign, for which the 25-year-old is an ambassador, which has been hindered, like everything else, by the current pandemic.
“Even now with no sporting events going on, on Instagram and Twitter I’ve been seeing a lot more young kids and parents posting videos of their girls out in the back garden trying different things or doing different skills challenges which is great to see.
“We have some of the best athletes in the world here in Ireland and a lot of those are female and some of our best chances were going to be female athletes in Tokyo.
“I think for kids, a lot of them don’t see gender. When I was young, we were swimming with lads and girls, playing football with lads and girls at break time, we just played. Whoever was the best, was the best, it didn’t matter who they were.
“It seems like there’s quite a few competitive games in people’s back gardens these days and there’s a lot of videos that people have been sending me of their sons and daughters out doing something and some of the girls are better, some of the boys are better. There’s just that little bit of competitiveness which is nice to see.
“I’m sure this wasn’t in the forecast for the 20×20 campaign but I think we’ve made a lot of strides, everyone has been on board which is great to see. Hopefully, it can go from strength to strength when everything picks back up again.
“The most exciting thing for me will be how it goes on from here, what difference it made when the stats come in because I know there was a lot of research behind it and there will be figures and then how we take it on from here. It wasn’t a one to two year project, it was a conscious effort from here on out. Hopefully, it’s made people think a little bit.”
To read part one of our interview with Leona Maguire, click here.
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