Not only will Muirfield Village Golf Club serve as a test case for the Covid-19 era of professional sports this summer, it will do so on two occasions. As was first reported last week, the Dublin, Ohio, course will play host to a pair of PGA Tour events in back-to-back weeks in July.
The first event is a yet-to-be-named replacement for the John Deere Classic, which was forced to cancel due to coronavirus restrictions. The unnamed tournament, which is sponsored by Workday, will run from July 9-12 and will follow the PGA Tour’s early-season safety protocols. As a result, no fans will be permitted on property for the duration of the tournament.
The following week, PGA Tour players will return for the second consecutive event at Muirfield, the Memorial Tournament. For those who played in the previous week’s event, things will look more or less the same, minus one major tweak. The Memorial is set to serve as the PGA Tour’s first event with on-site fans in the coronavirus era. From July 16-19, fans will be allowed to enter the gates at Muirfield for the first time since golf’s return.
But if you want to get on-site, you’ll need to be one of a very lucky few. As the Columbus Dispatch first reported, the Memorial is preparing to allow a maximum of “about 8,000 fans” among the gallery at any one time. That number is roughly 20 percent of Muirfield’s typical capacity.
“The State of Ohio has been a leader in identifying the tremendous threat that began to appear in January,” the Memorial said in a release. “Their implemented plan has produced encouraging results and allowed for the slow process of opening the State to business and gradually allowing Ohioans to return to a level of normalcy, including the ability to permit patrons at this year’s Memorial.”
The first Muirfield event will give tournament organizers the opportunity to test and prepare the various safety protocols expected for the Memorial. In addition to the crowd limitations, the Memorial is expected to restrict television attendance by 50 percent and media attendance by 75 percent.
“The Memorial is looking forward to partnering with state, county and city leadership, along with the Memorial Covid-19 Task Force, to offer the Memorial Tournament as an example of how public gathering events can be developed and implemented with approved and accepted protocols in place,” the statement said.
It remains to be seen which safety protocols those allowed on-site will be asked to follow, though some have speculated fans could be required to wear masks or subject to temperature screening upon entrance. If things remain as planned, the Memorial will mark the first event with fans in attendance since the Players Championship in mid-March.