PGA Tour Sends Memo Outlining COVID-19 Safety Procedures for Return to Play

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 13, 2020

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 13: A general view of the 17th green is seen after the cancellation of the The PLAYERS Championship and consecutive PGA Tour events through April 5th,2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as seen at the TPC Stadium course on March 13, 2020 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The PGA Tour has sent out a 37-page memo on safety precautions to employees and golfers ahead of its return to play in Texas at the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 8.

Golfers, caddies, swing coaches and media members will be subject to constant testing—including daily thermal temperature scans—to ensure the well-being of all involved at each tournament, according to ESPN's Bob Harig, who obtained a copy of the document.

The goal is to create as much of a "bubble" environment as possible in an organization that will be traveling frequently for tournaments. PGA officials have already begun chartering planes between competitions and will book designated hotels.

Officials will reveal the full nature of the new safety protocols in a press conference scheduled for Wednesday.

Among the notable portions of the memo reported by ESPN, the tour has made clear it will not be taking any tests or supplies away from front-line workers who need them most. The current testing plan will produce results within 24-48 hours with players still allowed to practice and play while awaiting results.

Should a player test positive, he will need to quarantine immediately, even if that means withdrawing from tournament play. If a player is forced to withdraw after making the 36-hole cut, he will be paid out prize money for last place.

From Harig's reporting:

"As part of the Tour's plan to minimize 'risk of infection,' players' families will not be permitted at the golf course, and they will have limited support personnel available.

"[...] For the competition itself, the Tour is going to allow caddies to handle flagsticks and bunker rakes, but is requiring them to wipe them down afterward. It is also asking them to socially distance from those in the group as much as possible while asking the players to pull and return golf clubs to the bag."

Harig noted the memo is meant to serve as a "guide" for the tour and will continually be updated with new best practices as necessary.

"While we believe we have created an extremely comprehensive health and safety plan," the memo says, "we will not play if we do not feel we can provide a safe and healthy environment for all constituents.''

Charles Schwab Challenge will be immediately followed by the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina, beginning June 15.

The full, revised PGA schedule can be found on the tour website.