The PGA Tour is back, and this week it will officially introduce the “bubble” to keep players and caddies as safe as possible. That means chartered jets will be used to usher them from event to event.
Will there be a big PGA Tour logo on the outside of the plane? Probably not. But the Tour had great influence in deciding how the planes would be managed. Here’s everything you need to know about the chartered jets as the Tour prepares for its return at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
Spacing is important
Due to social distancing protocols on the planes, 114 people will be allowed on the jets, or about 64% capacity. So, if just 58 players and their caddies register by Wednesday evening, we’ll be needing more seats. The PGA Tour is not particularly worried about that, though. According to a Tour spokesperson, between “Friday cut and access to additional aircraft if needed, we do not anticipate turning any players or caddies away from our charter flight.”
There you have it. Nonetheless, a standby system will go into effect in the instance that more than 114 players and caddies register by the Wednesday evening deadline.
But there’s a priority ranking
As far as registration goes, players come first, caddies second. And even then, players with greater status in the game will be prioritized first. A top 20 player like Matt Kuchar will have no problem choosing his seat. He might even get one of the precious first class spots. But a lower-ranking player will be pushed further down the list. Caddie reservations will follow players, and will be prioritized according to their player’s rank.
No test, no boarding
In order to provide as safe an experience as possible, players and caddies will only be able to board the plane once they’ve confirmed a negative Covid test within the last 24 hours. The Tour is providing testing on Saturday afternoon to players and caddies who wish to fly via the charter jet. If a player tests positive, they will not be allowed to board the plane
Win and you’re in (first class)
Perks of a victory are one gigantic check, job security AND a first class seat for the player and his caddie. We can only hope to see some Instagram posts arise from this fun stipulation.
But this is no free flight
The system used by the PGA Tour will be used by the Korn Ferry Tour and Champions Tour throughout the summer. The Korn Ferry Tour may not have as much ground to cover between events (and thus less incentive to fly), but it does return to action this week as well with the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass.
Players on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour will be charged $600 per seat. Korn Ferry Tour players and all caddies pay $300 a seat.
No booze allowed
While it might seem obvious with the planes set to take off between 8 and 10 a.m. local time each Monday after a tournament ends, there will still be no drinking on board. Alcohol will not be permitted, and even in-flight catering will be limited. All business aboard the Tour charter.
Masks are highly advised
Depending on the flight provider, it may be mandated that players and caddies wear masks while on the plane. We have learned you can never be too careful with the coronavirus, and the PGA Tour is taking it very seriously.