The PGA Tour’s modified 2020 schedule, which calls for play to resume in the second week of June and fans at tournaments four weeks later, is the most detailed plan by a U.S. professional sport to restart amid a coronavirus pandemic that has shut down much of the nation.
The plan announced Thursday would resume play June 11-14 at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Texas. It would be the first tournament since mid-March and the first of four that would be played without spectators.
It also would keep the 3M Open set to play before galleries in Blaine come late July.
The plan still depends on the guidance of what PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan calls the “leading public-health authorities” in resuming a season he suspended during the Players Championship in early March.
Monahan said the health and safety of “all associated with the PGA Tour and our global community” continue to be his top priority.
“Our hope is to play a role — responsibly — in the world’s return to enjoying the things we love,” he said in a statement.
The NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball still are considering resuming play in neutral sites everywhere from North Dakota and Las Vegas to Phoenix and Florida.
“I think we’ll be the first,” 3M Open executive director Hollis Cavner said Thursday. “We have such a great advantage over everyone else. We’re so much more fortunate than other types of sports.”
Golf is something of a natural physically distancing sport, played outdoors on a site of 200 acres or more. It also is not played surrounded by 20,000 fans in an arena or 50,000 fans in a stadium.
“I can assure anybody who steps foot on that property will have a mask if they want one. Above everything else, we’ll be safe. 3M never would allow us to host anything that’s not safe.”
With the 3M Open just three months away, Cavner said his normal tournament staff plus employees from canceled PGA Tour events he operates in North Carolina, Florida and Mexico are working on contingency plans.
He said the best-case scenario, if unlikely, is a “normal” tournament complete with pro-am days and large crowds of spectators. Another is an event with not as many spectators in skyboxes and public areas. One plan would cancel the event now and another would cancel it late, not long before the event is due to start.
Each is dependent on whether spectators will be allowed on the grounds, as well as the number of volunteers, security, police and fire officers, groundskeepers and other groups needed.
Cavner said the crew needed to televise the tournament nationally is 300, with or without spectators. Remote cameras in some parts of the TPC course could help limit the number of workers needed, but camera operators walking the fairways on the back nine still will be needed to “do the show right,” he said.
“The details that go into making it a safe but still a fun, great event are enormous,” Cavner said. “We fully expect to have a great, successful tournament and hopefully get people out of the house and into the fresh air again.”
Last week, golf’s major governing bodies together announced scheduling changes that canceled the British Open; moved the PGA Championship from May back to its traditional August date; shifted the men’s U.S. Open to September, a week before the Ryder Cup in Wisconsin; and moved the Masters to November.
The new schedule includes a tournament every week until December except for Thanksgiving.
The John Deere Open is the first scheduled to include spectators, two weeks before the 3M Open.
Cavner promises there will be physical distancing and other safety measures for players, caddies, spectators and staff, no matter which contingency the 3M Open chooses after it consults with city, county and state health authorities.
“I can assure anybody who steps foot on that property will have a mask if they want one,” Cavner said. “Above everything else, we’ll be safe. 3M never would allow us to host anything that’s not safe.”