12 things recreational golfers can learn from the PGA Tour’s new safety guidelines
The PGA Tour released an expansive 37-page document in which it detailed guidelines for the PGA Tour’s return to action. Titled, “Return to golf events,” the document is a “Health, Safety, Player/Caddie & Competition Update” focused on the Tour’s resumption, which is scheduled for the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11-14 at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.
While much of the text is centered around new protools and safe practices — including what happens if a player tests positive for Covid-19 — there are numerous rules and recommendations that would benefit recreational golfers and/or golf clubs. In one portion, the Tour even has a section titled “general etiquette and behavior expectations,” which can easily be applied to Average Joe golfers. Some of it might be things you are already doing, while other guidelines might be totally new. Either way, they are all important. Here’s a rundown of what the Tour highlighted and is focused on, which means you should be, too.
1. Social distance
Always adhere to recommended social distancing guidelines. “This is in an effort to maximize the health and safety of all participants inside the bubble and also to show best practices for playing golf to our fans watching the telecast,” the Tour said.
2. No shaking hands or contact
Goodbye fist-bumps or high-fives.
3. Wash your hands
Use soap and water and do this frequently before, during and after your round. The Tour also suggests that if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol. Players and caddies are encouraged to sanitize their hands after each hole.
4. Avoid touching your face
You know the drill — don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth, and if you have to sneeze or cough try and do so into a tissue or inside your elbow. Also, avoid spitting.
5. Consider wearing a mask
Players and caddies can decide to wear a cloth face cover at the event. This is subject to local health department guidelines.
6. Clean bunker rakes and flagsticks if you touch them
Under the Tour’s guidelines, caddies are allowed to rake bunkers and pull flagsticks, but they must clean both immediately after using them.
7. Wipe down your bag
The Tour recommends caddies frequently clean golf bags with disinfectant wipes. It would be a good practice for you as well.
8. Ask your club to cut more holes on the putting green
The Tour will cut more holes on practice putting greens to make it easier for players to social distance. Flagsticks will be limited. If your home club isn’t doing this already, it’d be easy enough to start.
9. Ask yourself a few questions
Players and caddies will undergo pre-travel test scans and additional screens when they got on site. Everyone on site will also have to answer daily questionnaires. While it’s unlikely you’ll be able to take an actual test before heading to your local muni, put together your own daily questionnaire and run through it while you drink your morning coffee. It might help assess how you feel and if you are OK to head to the golf course or be around others.
10. Come to the course prepared
Access to the clubhouse at PGA Tour events will be restricted to those who have been cleared via testing. So remember, your local clubhouse won’t have the staff that Tour stops do, so it might not even be open. So come prepared! Brings snacks or drinks or whatever you might need for your few hours on the course.
11. Limit your entourage
The Tour is not allowing family on site and temporarily suspending childcare and special family activities. Managers and agents are also not allowed on site for at least the first four events. So, for recreational golfers, do you really need to bring a family member to ride along or hit a few shots here and there? Probably not.
12. Bring your bag home
The Tour is temporarily eliminating things like bag storage. Maybe you should too? Instead of keeping the sticks at the home club and allowing another person to potentially touch them, why not just throw them in the trunk and then keep them in the basement? Can’t hurt.