Opinion: With ambitious schedule, are golf's leaders teeing off too soon?

Get out your calendars, sports fans, and pay attention. The game of golf has some news for you.

4/7/2020 3:10:00 AM

Get out your calendars, sports fans, and pay attention. The game of golf has some news for you.

By setting dates for three of golf's men's majors, the powers that be have given us a hopeful diversion, but the timing of the news leaves questions.

USA TODAYGet out your calendars, sports fans, and pay attention. The game of golf has some news for you.The Masters is now in November, two weeks before Thanksgiving. The U.S. Open men’s championship will be held in September, the U.S. Open women’s championship in December. The Ryder Cup remains where it was, meaning it comes immediately after the U.S. Open, which is both crazy and fascinating. The PGA Championship will be in August, which is where it used to be. And the men’s British Open is canceled.

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This is the plan for now, knowing that everything could change again based on how the rest of the world is dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The powers that be in golf have given us a hopeful diversion with their news, although it’s fair to ask if this announcement had to come at the beginning of the week that the U.S. surgeon general said is going to be “the hardest and saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”

All of our other major sports are still remaining silent about their plans as rumors swirl, perhaps out of deference to the tragedy unfolding around us, perhaps because they have no idea what the future holds, or perhaps because they don’t have the built-in advantage golf has during these difficult times.

The game of golf has been practicing social distancing even before there was such a thing as social distancing. Not in the golf cart, not at the 19th hole, not usually at the tee and definitely not around the greens or near the hole, but you have to give it to golf: people playing a round together often are far more than two yards apart.

This makes golf the one sport that perhaps can pull off a return sooner than others. How many people absolutely must be on a golf course for a professional tournament? Perhaps 1,000, considering players, caddies, officials, grounds crews, security, catering and other necessary services, TV and media (assuming you want people to be able to see it and read about it).

Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters, sits on 345 acres. Drop 1,000 people onto the grounds there and most of them will have little trouble staying away from each other. Golfers and caddies, not so much, but if everyone has been tested (presuming there are enough tests in the country in a few months so that testing a bunch of golfers and caddies doesn’t take away tests from others who need them), this might be able to work.

You’ll note that the calculation of the number of people needed to put on a golf tournament does not include spectators. At this moment, in early April, the week that the Masters was going to be held, it’s hard to imagine thousands of fans flooding golf courses at any time this year. It’s also difficult to picture 60,000-100,000 fans packing college and pro football stadiums this fall, or 30,000-40,000 in MLB stadiums later this summer.

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No one knows what the future holds, but it’s a strong guess we’re going to get familiar with another new term during these extraordinary times: spectator-less sports events.Here’s another piece of the golf scheduling puzzle: Will it be safe to fly later this summer? Let’s hope so, but if not, golf again finds itself in an enviable position in that many top golfers fly in private jets, and a few charter flights could deposit most of the necessary participants for these tournaments.

The game of golf is in a strong position to talk about restarting its schedule because some governors are allowing people in their states to play recreationally even now, realizing the benefits of fresh air and exercise while taking measures to keep people apart and avoid touching communal property like flag sticks, rakes and ball washers.

Meanwhile, across the pond, the R&A has decided that unlike its American counterparts, it will cancel its major tournament in 2020, the Open Championship in Kent, England, scheduled for July. There have been media reports that this might be a financial decision based on insurance concerns. Certainly, having enough daylight hours would be a problem that far north later in the year.

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Then there’s this: watching Queen Elizabeth and President Donald Trump speak to their respective nations, it’s clear that the United Kingdom has a leader who is taking coronavirus very seriously, while the United States has a leader who is itching to have life, especially sports, return to normal as quickly as possible.

Read more: USA TODAY

Doesn’t mean anyone has to go watch. There is no such thing as 'too soon'. First of all... Golf is stupid. It's a not a sport. Its a luxurious way for lazy people whom somehow call themselves an athlete...athlete my ass...its something for the indolent. Just like those wanting to sit on their fat ass playing chess.

The Masters Moves to November as Golf Repositions with a Delayed ScheduleThe Masters, which would have been played this week but was called off in response to the novel coronavirus, will be played in November That's stupid. Golfers don't get close to each other anyways. QueenElizabeth said We will succeed and that....Corona COVID19 COVID Hold it at Mar a Lago...DeSantis doesn't care and Trump wants to see folks at his resort (he's been losing money you know).

Golf Reshuffles Its Schedule: All 4 Majors Canceled Or PostponedGolf tournament organizers have announced major schedule changes due to the spread of the coronavirus — including canceling the British Open and rescheduling the Masters, the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. Great news. Cancel golf. So many events have been pushed to August and September that I wonder how networks, cities, people are going to budget out time to watch/participate in it all!

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