With the return of the PGA Tour at the Charles Schwab Challenge one month away, the PGA Tour officially released their health and safety protocols for the return to competition. As social distancing is still being stressed around the globe, the Tour formulated a 37-page plan that outlines the procedures they will take to ensure a “safe and healthy environment for all constituents involved.”
Here are six takeaways from the plan.
1. Tour will not take away resources from the community
On a call with the media explaining the new procedures, Tour officials emphasized that while they will implement robust testing and other safety procedures, it will not be at the expense of resources from the local community. This mainly includes testing labs that will be utilized in the city where the event is played. A quick turnaround on these tests will be necessary, but the Tour is working on finding labs that can handle their burden without taking away from the local community.
2. While there will be testing, social distancing will be key
Players, caddies and a select other number of “essential personnel” will undergo pre-travel screening, and then will be tested upon arrival to the event, but a number of others will be onsite and not be tested. There will be daily screening for all involved that includes a questionnaire and thermal reading, but with the prevalence of asymptomatic carriers, there is no way to mitigate all risk. Because of this fact, the Tour is counting on all people onsite to adhere to social distancing measures to help minimize the risk of transmission.
3. No on-site pro-ams, honorary observers
With the limited number of people on site each week, the Tour is doing away with weekly pro-ams and honorary observers. These traditional corporate outreach opportunities for the Tour generate revenue for the event and help establish goodwill between them and their corporate partners, but under the new safety measures, it is too risky to bring many more people on site beyond essential personnel.
4. No families allowed at events
Many pros typically travel from event to event with their families in tow and the Tour even offers daycare services at events. But with the Tour limiting people on site to the “essentials,” families will not be allowed and childcare and other family special activities have been suspended. Don’t expect the traditional family hug for the winner on the 18th green anytime soon.
5. Positive player tests won’t be publicized by the Tour
The Tour stated they will not publicize test results if/when a player tests positive, presumably because of potential HIPPA violations. However, players are free to make their own announcement of the test results, and with any positive test triggering an immediate WD from the event, it will be easy to speculate who contracts the virus.
6. Travel protocols are “strong recommendations”
The Tour will charter a plane from one stop to the next the Monday after each event with all passengers being required to submit to viral testing prior to departure. These charters will shuttle players and caddies from one city to the next in order to preserve the Tour “bubble” they hope to maintain. However, this travel method, while strongly recommended, is optional and players and caddies still have travel options including private planes, flying commercial and driving.