Okay, people, we have legitimate golf news to discuss today. Feels weird!

News and updates

  • The PGA Tour released its comprehensive plan for the health and safety of players and tournament staff. We’ll dive into the details and implications below.
  • Southern Hills Country Club has officially been appointed host of the 2030 PGA Championship. Recently restored by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, this Perry Maxwell design will shine when it hosts its first major since the 2007 PGA Championship, won by Tiger Woods. Read our full breakdown of the course HERE
  • Team USA captain Steve Stricker announced Zac(t)h Johnson and Davis Love III as assistant captains for the 2020 Ryder Cup. ZJ and DL3 will join Jim Furyk as members of the earpiece gang at Whistling Straits.
  • Three of the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings will tee it up in South Korea this weekend. Sei Young Kim, Sung Hyun Park, and Jeongeun Lee6 are all in the field at the fan-less KLPGA Championship. Full Story from Reuters

The Storylines

Just the essentials?

On Tuesday, the PGA Tour gave media members access to a document of nearly 40 pages that outlined health and safety procedures for when tournaments resume in June. Some policies are limited to the first four events back, but all of them are subject to ongoing evaluation and change. Nevertheless, the plan offers the most detailed picture to date of what the COVID-19-era Tour might look like.

  • Players and caddies will be tested prior to travel and when they arrive in a new city. On a daily basis, they will fill out questionnaires and receive temperature checks.
  • If someone tests positive for COVID-19, they will be required to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days.
  • Caddies will be allowed to carry their players’ bags, handle pins, and rake bunkers, but players are supposed to pull their own clubs out of the bag.
  • Roughly 1,100 on-site personnel have been deemed “essential.” This number includes players, caddies, clubhouse staff, trainers, and equipment reps. Family members will not be allowed on the grounds for at least the first four tournaments back. (Reminder: as of now, the PGA Tour plans to welcome fans on site starting with the John Deere Classic in July.)
  • Charter flights, with up to 170 seats available, will ferry players and caddies from event to event on the PGA Tour, Champions Tour, and Korn Ferry Tour. PGA Tour and Champions Tour players will be charged $600 per flight, while KFT players will pay $300. Tickets will be dispensed on a first come, first served basis.
  • Players, caddies, and essential personnel are expected to stay at specific hotels unless given permission by the Tour to stay elsewhere.
  • Approximately 40 media members will be allowed at each event.

The PGA Tour has clearly put a lot of time into this plan. Tour officials are attempting to salvage as much of the season as possible while minimizing the risk of spreading the virus. Many of the policies seem logical and well thought out, but a few big questions remain.

First, if the chartered flights will be serving three tours and have a capacity of 170 seats, a certain number of players and caddies will have to find other means of transportation every week. This would seem to defeat the goal of containment. Perhaps the big tour could enlist its crew of jet setters to shuttle players around as well?

Next, how could 1,100 people possibly be “essential” to have on the grounds at a golf tournament? Do coaches, trainers, and equipment reps really need to be there? Besides, of those 1,100 people, only about 400 will be subject to testing. Will those 400 be isolated from the 700 others? If not, what’s the point? Presumably there are more details to come regarding the Tour’s testing regimen.

Finally, there is no way to ensure the rules will be followed. This week at the Scottsdale Open, a mini-tour event that has attracted some big names, tournament officials gave every player a rake and provided sanitizer for wiping down pins. But as Alan Shipnuck reported, not everyone adhered to these basic guidelines, and some groups shared rakes the whole round.

Bottom line, there is no way to create a perfectly safe event in today’s world. When the PGA Tour starts again, certain gaps in safety will be inevitable.

The Latest from The Fried Egg

Routing the Ridges: Seminole Golf Club – Seminole Golf Club doesn’t sit on an ideal piece of land, but that didn’t stop Donald Ross from creating a masterpiece. Andy details how Ross took advantage of Seminole’s best natural features and fixed the rest.

Shotgun Start: Flashlight on “Little Sluman,” Ryder Cup mayo sandwich, new Tour health guidelines 

This Wednesday episode goes in several different directions, from news of the day to two separate “Flashlights” at the end. Brendan and Andy begin with some reactions to the PGA Tour’s health guidelines and policies that were sent to the players on Tuesday in a 37-page deck. They got a look at the deck and pulled out some of the more substantive, amusing, and concerning points as things prepare to return next month at Colonial. Then they get to the further details of the match at Seminole, including reactions to not having to hit the fairway on the two long drive holes. The fearsome foursome that now makes up the US Ryder Cup captaincy group is reviewed, and it appears Zach Johnson is heading for the main job. They demand more spice, some new blood. But is this now a closed loop of captains and assistant captains or are there just not that many options out there? Then they transition to two short Flashlights, first on the 1994 Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf at Sunningdale between world No. 1 Greg Norman and No. 2 Nick Faldo. They praise the compact product, player interactions, and legendary course. A second Flashlight shines on the 1988 PGA in what would have been PGA week. Jeff Sluman’s win and career is given the treatment, as well as the odd history of the ‘88 venue, Oak Tree National, and the “Oak Tree Gang,” a prelude to the #JupLife collective. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Pro Shop

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