PGA Return to Golf News Conference, with Key Question and Answer Session discussing the Future of the PGA Tour in 2020

Posted by Press Release on May 13, 2020 at 10:22 pm under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Hear from the following administrative leaders from the Professional Golf Association/PGA Tour….
JOEL SCHUCHMANN
TYLER DENNIS
ANDY LEVINSON
ANDY PAZDER

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Good morning, everybody. We really appreciate you guys taking the time to join us for our second return to golf update. I believe you received a return to golf document this morning that spells out the PGA TOUR’s plans covering all facets of our return to competition. To go through the information and answer some follow up questions, I’d like to introduce three members of our competitions department who have been integral throughout: Andy Pazder, chief tournaments and competitions officer; Tyler Dennis, chief of operations; and Andy Levinson, senior vice president of tournament administration.

My name is Joel Schuchmann; PGA TOUR vice president of communications, and I’ll be the quarterback throughout this call, I’ll turn things over to Tyler to get the presentation started.
Thanks.

TYLER DENNIS: Thanks, Joel. Hello, everyone. Nice to be with you on the conference call, and also looking forward to seeing all of you soon. So for those of you who joined in on the Microsoft Teams platform, we’re going to be walking through the presentation that I believe Joel has sent to everyone, and so I’ll make a few sort of opening remarks and then Andy Levinson is going to go through our health and safety plans, and then I’ll come back towards the end.
But just to set the stage, as we said on our last call, we’re excited about how the PGA TOUR can play a role here in the world’s return, if you will, to enjoying things we love and doing so in a responsible manner. Our players are excited about the opportunity of our restart at the Charles Schwab Challenge the week of June 8th, and we’re also extremely aware of the impact that our tournaments make in all the markets we play with our 3,000 plus charities.
We have spent a lot of time being very thoughtful, diligent, and trying to be transparent with all of our constituent groups and thinking through what we’re going to go through today as what we’re calling our return to golf plan.
We’ve been working with leading medical experts, government agencies in each of the markets, and our number one priority has been the safety and well being of all of our PGA TOUR constituents and the global communities in which we play.
Having said that, I want to make a few points here. First of all, you’re going to see we’ve created what we believe is an extremely comprehensive health and safety plan and what falls out of that from a tournament operations point of view. But just to be perfectly clear, we’re not going to play if we can’t do it in a safe and healthy environment for all of our constituents.
Second to that, and just as important, as we’ve thought through a lot of the health and safety components, we’re not going to do them in a manner that takes away from testing and medical resources in the communities we play in, from affected groups in those communities. We’re actually studying this very carefully, and everything we’ve designed is being done in a way that does not do that. And just sort of inside the field of play, if you will, we’ve tried to keep in mind through all this that the integrity of the competition is of the utmost importance. We want to make sure we provide the environment that allows our players to do what they do so well.
Having said that, we’re going to go through first the health and safety components of this and then go from there more to the day to day, day in the life experience and tournament operations.
Things to keep in mind as we go through all of this is it’s really a layered approach that we’ve taken, and the heart of it is social distancing. It’s something we’re all quite accustomed to in our personal lives now. And as we’ve looked at a golf tournament and each constituent, whether you’re a player or a caddie or a member of the media or any other person that might be there, we know that we can go throughout our day and week at a tournament site in a socially distant manner, and that’s really critical to the overall health and safety plan.
But layered on top of that, we have created, and Andy is going to talk to this in a moment, a comprehensive testing and screening plan, working with medical experts. And then furthermore in the venue, we have implemented what will be on a weekly basis a significant enhancement in disinfectant and hygiene practices.
So the point of this presentation we’re giving you is it’s evolving. We’re sharing it with all our constituents, but we’re aiming for best practice here. We wanted to be consistent. With that said, Andy Levinson, I’ll hand it over to you to walk us through the next few slides.

ANDY LEVINSON: Thank you, Tyler, and good morning, everyone. So as Tyler mentioned, this is a plan that we have been developing over the course of the last two months with input from the PGA TOUR medical adviser Dr. Tom Hospel. We have also consulted with a professor from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and he is a professor at the Harvard Medical School who’s an expert on infectious diseases, and we’ve been fortunate to have direct conversations with the Federal Coronavirus Task Force as well as other specialists and laboratory directors and in consultation with the other professional sports leagues.
As Tyler mentioned, the foundation of this plan is our belief that we can conduct a PGA TOUR event throughout the entire property, with everybody practicing good social distancing. And we also will not execute this plan in a manner that impacts the resources and the communities in which we’re playing.
With that in mind, I’ll go through the details of the health and safety plan, and then after Tyler and I have gone through this, we’re happy to answer questions.
If you look at the current methods of screening for coronavirus, the primary methods are a questionnaire. And this can be a very useful tool in understanding people who are at risk. That involves asking people about their current health, specific questions about symptoms related to COVID 19, as well as interpersonal associations. Thermal reading, or taking people’s temperature. We know that fever is the most common symptom related to COVID 19. And so layering a thermal reading with a questionnaire, you have a very good chance of detecting a high percentage of the people who are at risk.
And then for a population of the people that we will have on site, we will be implementing COVID 19 testing using the RT PCR nasal swab test, which is the most effective gold standard for diagnosing COVID 19, and potentially down the road as the testing advances, we may be able to move on to a saliva based testing collection.
So for the player and caddie group, we are going to be providing that group with a pre travel testing program, and the purpose of this is really for those individuals to understand whether or not they have the virus before they travel to a tournament market. And then upon arrival, everyone will report to a testing area, likely at a designated hotel, where they will undergo all three screening methods: The questionnaire, thermal reading, and a PCR test. And then going forward throughout the week, everybody who comes on site at our events will have to go through a questionnaire and thermal screening before entering the property, and participation in this program is a condition of competition.
For the results, we know we can get results back immediately on the questionnaire and thermal screenings. In most communities, PCR test results take anywhere from one to three days, but what we’re really focusing on is identifying local laboratories who aren’t overly burdened with community testing or may not currently be community testing at all at this time, and trying to decrease that turnaround time to a matter of hours instead of a matter of days, and as we’ve said, we wouldn’t do this with local laboratories, if, again, we were taking resources away from the community.
People who are waiting on test results would be allowed to go on site to practice and play, so long as they are practicing social distancing, and would not be using any of the facilities on site. We will have significant protocols for anybody who presents with an elevated temperature. Those people would be consulted by a tournament physician, and in certain cases, that would initiate a COVID 19 test response.
In the event we have a positive test, we will comply with all local health authorities as well as CDC guidelines, and that would include isolating that individual and may require a period of isolation or an extended time. The CDC guidelines currently state 10 days after the first positive test with no subsequent symptoms or two negative test results at a minimum of 24 hours apart.
If it is possible and it’s a short distance that doesn’t require somebody to stop and potentially expose others, somebody could travel home by car if it is safe to do so. If not, then we will provide support to that person throughout the isolation period, whether that’s through specialized medical care or providing that person with supplies throughout the isolation period, and any player or caddie who were to test positive during an event would receive a stipend associated with the cost of that isolation period.
So our goal is to minimize risk as much as possible, with the full understanding that there is no way to eliminate all of the risk. But one of the best ways we can do that, to reduce the likelihood of exposure, is by limiting the number of people we have on site and also limiting access to certain areas, keeping groups separated.
We will enhance the restrictions on access to player and caddie areas. The clubhouse and locker room and caddie areas will all be much more restricted in terms of who can enter there, and also the number of people that can be in there at any given time.
In these first few events upon our return, we will not have player family members and other support personnel that players and caddies are accustomed to having. We are going to implement measures to ensure social distancing, whether that’s in practice areas, whether that’s in the buildings, whether that’s anybody who’s on site. So we’ve really taken the approach of looking at every single person who’s on site, walking a day in their shoes, trying to recognize those touch points and understanding ways that we can mitigate that.
We will have disinfection plans, and on site we will have personal protection equipment, face masks available for anybody who wants them. We will also have sanitary and disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer throughout the property.
We’re going to try to extend this bubble, if you will, beyond the tournament, to the accommodations in which our constituents are staying, and we’re really going to ask them to act as if they are now and how they have been for the past couple of months, which is a safer at home philosophy. That means not going into crowded areas, not going to restaurants necessarily but doing take out instead, and we’re going to work with the local hotels to ensure that they have proper health and safety plans.
So the groups that will be subject to the more comprehensive testing as I said, it will be a focus on the players and caddies and those people that have to be in close proximity to them, or certain people, certain staff that during the course of their responsibilities may not be able to socially distance at all times.
For everybody on site, as I said, everybody who comes in will be asked a few questions and have their temperature taken before reporting. Everybody will be asked to operate in a socially distant manner, and we’re fortunate that our sport is conducted on a large piece of property, spread out over, in some cases, more than 200 acres, and we feel very strongly that we can operate in that proper physical distance. We will have access, as I mentioned, to face masks and other sanitary products. We’re going to promote good hygiene and make those resources available. And as you guys know, there’s a lot of equipment on site that gets passed from one to another, and we’re going to have a plan that those pieces of equipment are disinfected before those exchanges are made.
The PGA TOUR is providing all the face masks and disinfectant wipes, covering the costs of testing each week, and providing thermal screening services and equipment. Tournaments who are accustomed to providing hand sanitizer will continue to do so throughout the property, and each tournament will have an overall health and safety plan, disinfection plan going forward.
So when you look at the experience that players and caddies and all of our constituents will have on site, we want to keep emphasizing the importance of social distancing in every way. It’s important for us to mitigate the risk wherever we can, and we also have an obligation, an obligation to the communities in which we’re playing, an obligation to the people who are going to be watching us in our broadcast, and that is to set a good example, and we believe we can do that with the plan we’ve set forth.
We are going to be limiting people on site. We’ve looked at every constituent group and figured out ways to reduce that likelihood of exposure. We’ve put certain parameters on people who may be on site but might have to operate differently. An example would be golf instructors. We’ve put very specific protocols in place for how they can do their work and still support the players but do so at a proper physical distance. This would include equipment support, as well. That’s a key component to our players’ performance each week, but we’re going to just do it a little bit differently. It’ll be more of a concierge service where players can come and pick up equipment from a designated location, and there won’t be direct physical interaction. We will allow trainers on site, because again, that’s critical to our players’ preparation and performance, and those people will be part of the testing program.
With respect to access, I mentioned we’re going to be limiting the number of people in each space. We’re looking at 36 square feet per person, so in a 1,000 square foot room, the maximum number of people allowed would be around 27 people. We’re going to be applying these access restrictions throughout the property and also putting other restrictions on how people can enter certain facilities such as our physio trucks, how they’ll access equipment and so forth. And then there will be certain services that our players and caddies are accustomed to that we won’t be able to continue in the near term, and those are outlined in the document.
We will be providing charter flights in between tournament locations in the near term. Players will have the option of taking the charter flight that we provide or using NetJets, and this is a service that we’ll be providing across PGA TOUR, PGA TOUR Champions, and Korn Ferry TOUR, as well. Anybody who uses the charter flight will be required to submit to viral testing prior to departure.
For lodging, we believe that the best solution for lodging is to work with a select number of hotels in the market and focus on their enhanced safety protocols. So we’re going to ask that players and caddies and other select personnel stay in one of the designated hotels, because again, it gives us better control on moving that bubble from the golf course into those communities in which we’re staying.
We will allow some exceptions to that, whether it’s players traveling in RVs or players who prefer to stay in rental homes, and we’re providing guidance on the sanitization practices that we expect from those types of properties. And of course, if somebody does live in the local market, they’re free to stay in their own home, all while practicing that safer at home philosophy that we’ve become accustomed to.
For food and beverage, we’re still going to be providing plenty of healthy nutrition for our athletes and caddies. It’s just going to look a little bit differently. It will be more of a grab and go philosophy, and off site, as I said earlier, we’re asking that players, rather than dining in crowded restaurants, that they focus on takeout and taking it back to their accommodations.
For ground transportation, we believe that rental car companies such as Avis are going to be implementing stringent disinfection procedures, and so where possible we’re encouraging people to utilize those services. Some tournaments may have courtesy cars, and we are going to work on creating significant health and safety plans for those services if tournaments do choose them.
In the near term, we will not be having onsite pro ams or other traditional activities that we normally have at PGA TOUR events. However, we are going to ask our players to engage with our partners in some different ways, and perhaps those might be virtually.
So visually on course, we’re still going to have our scoreboards. We’re still going to rope and stake the golf course for safety reasons, and so from that perspective it will look similar. And now I’m going to hand it over to Tyler to go through some of the competitive adjustments.
TYLER DENNIS: Okay, thanks. Thanks, Andy. So turning our gaze to the field of play, if you will, as I said at the outset, golf is very conducive to social distancing and is being played all over the United States and many parts of the world right now.
While that is the case, we have taken the time to think really through a day in the competitive life of a player and caddie and how we need to make some small adjustments in places to ensure that we can be as comprehensive as possible with our health and safety.
A lot of these guidelines, as Andy mentioned a minute ago, are part of our own personal lives now, and we’re quite familiar with them. But there are some specific golf things, so we’re not going to be shaking hands at the end of rounds, not going to be high fiving. That will have to be reimagined as a tip of the cap or an air fist bump or something from a distance. But in general, a lot of the basic guidelines are what we now know in our daily lives.
As far as face coverings go, players and caddies may choose to wear those throughout the property, and in some markets we play in, there may be additional governmental regulations or restrictions that mandate further use of face coverings.
In general, we’re going to ask the players and caddies to distance themselves more than normal and think about their own relationship. In speaking with our Player Advisory Council and player directors we’ve thought through this and all of the things that a caddie does and interacts as a team and with the player can still happen, they just have to happen from a distance. We’ve thought about the interaction of clubs coming out of the bag and things of that nature. We’ve talked about players retrieving the golf ball from the hole, including in practice situations, and likewise, the very few touch points that do exist on a field of play throughout a round, bunker rakes, flagsticks, we’re asking the caddies to handle those tasks and be very cognizant of disinfectant procedures following touching any item and for everyone at the end of each hole.
We’re going to go through a few details here. First of all, caddie bibs will continue, and we have developed an enhanced sanitization practice to make sure that they are clean. Furthermore, the caddie services team is going to be considered inside of our testing bubble.
The practice range is going to be reimagined somewhat. First of all, we are going to limit access significantly and try to keep it to players and caddies as much as possible. Furthermore, we’re thinking through the different dimensions of ball distribution and the hygiene of that, and certainly we’re going to demarcate on the range hitting stations that are done in a socially distanced requirement, that meets that requirement.
Same thing as you think about practice days; very limited access. We’re thinking of details like the number of holes on the practice green and enhancing that number, and just thinking about some of the nuances of maintenance and whatnot, given that we don’t have pro ams and some of our new things that we have to deal with in these return to golf events.

Q. As you get to the first tee, again, we’re going to have a very limited presence there. We’ve thought about details even to the extent of how tees and pencils, scorecard distribution, hole location sheets, all of these things we’re trying to do in as healthy a manner as possible. Likewise at the end of the round, the scoring area is going to be a little different. We’re going to have it in a larger room. It’s going to be in the clubhouse. We’ve thought about it being in sort of a standing configuration, and again, all designed from a health and safety point of view.
As I said earlier, on the course it’s quite easy for a player and caddie to go throughout their round in a socially distant manner. To the extent that there are some very limited touch points, we’re going to be asking each at the conclusion of each hole that the players and caddies use a disinfectant wipe.
A nuance here in our socially distanced version of a golf tournament relates to course evacuations. I think you’re all aware that when we do have to perform an evacuation, we traditionally use volunteers driving a 15 passenger van, and there’s several aspects to that that do not meet our health and safety standards, so we’re going to go a bit back in time, if you will, to the old days here and stage golf carts throughout each venue, and if we do have to evacuate we’re going to ask the player and caddie to drive in together. That limits our risk to the extent we can mitigate it in this unique situation.
Just a few general points before we open it up for Q & A. So we’ve been, as I said, sharing this with our titles and getting a lot of great feedback. From a brand point of view, there’s not going to be structures and a lot of the things that we’re all used to seeing on a telecast out there, and so we’re reimagining how signage, how the look and feel of all that will be implemented on site each week, and similarly, whereas normally the sponsors would have a big presence, we’ll just have a very limited presence of their key staff and others that need to be on site.
Turning our focus to the media, all of you, we’ve tried to rethink this, given all of our goals and objectives previously discussed. We’re working on a process to limit the total number of media that are going to be on site each week. We do imagine that for those that are allowed on site there will be a traditional media center, if you will, but the way we’re going to configure it is going to be in a much different setup so that everyone can do their work in a socially distanced manner.
We are thinking about those that cannot be on site. I’ll get to that in a minute. And we would allow the media to walk on the course outside the ropes. But there are a number of things that we are not going to allow, such as inside the ropes, practice area/locker room access. We’re not going to do pre round partner interviews, we’re not going to have local radio stations broadcasting live, and similar to what we mentioned earlier about food and beverage, we’re reimagining that in more of a grab and go type atmosphere that conforms to our standards.
As far as post round goes, we’re not going to construct or operate a traditional interview room. All interviews are going to take place at the flash area, and we’re going to configure that in a little bit different way. We’re going to provide a number of stations where we’ll do a singular audio/video feed that all the equipment and microphones and whatnot will be sanitized between each interview, and we’ll set it up in a way that everybody can keep their distance.
We’re going to try to get away from one on one interviews, given the close nature of those, unless approved by a PGA TOUR media official. And we’re going to try to enhance our virtual experience through interviews. We’re working on an enhanced version of our virtual media center, and I’m sure Joel can speak to the details of all of this later if needed.
One final note on broadcast, we’ve been collaborating very closely with our broadcast partners, CBS and NBC Golf Channel. They’re finalizing their own health, safety and operational plans, and we are in every way possible trying to integrate and work together with them as we think through this. They just like any business have their own specific things they have to think about in terms of the production operation, in the compound and how things can be done remotely, how there can be a reduced presence on site and whatnot, and that along with the look and feel, if you will, on the broadcast for these return to golf events will likely be presented at a later date.
So I think with that, that concludes our formal presentation, and Joel, I’ll hand it back to you to quarterback this from here.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thanks, Tyler. We’re going to take some questions now, and to get into the queue, please post a comment in the chat function of the meeting, and please don’t ask a question until you’re called upon and take yourself off of mute.

Q. What is the current state of getting players and caddies who are overseas into the United States?
ANDY LEVINSON: I’ll take that. We are working with the Federal Government to facilitate the return of players and caddies who are currently residing outside of the United States, and we’re optimistic that that’s going to occur.
We have a relatively small number of PGA TOUR players, around 25 or so, that are currently outside of the United States. That number is smaller on the Korn Ferry TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions. And those numbers are also similar across the caddies on those three tours, as well.
But we’re optimistic that we will be able to facilitate their return prior to our return to competition.

Q. How will World Ranking points be awarded when the TOUR resumes play?

TYLER DENNIS: As you are all aware, I think it was in late March that the Official World Golf Rankings organization, which the PGA TOUR is a part of and sits on the board of, announced that the ranking would be paused and would resume when play starts around the world. So that organization has a technical committee and a governing board and is in the process of evaluating how and when it will restart, and I would just direct you to reach out to the OWGR team for more information on that.

Q. Do you guys know how many tests approximately you’ll need, and are you confident that Fort Worth will have mass testing in place come next month?

ANDY LEVINSON: I’ll respond to that. Our testing group includes all of our players and caddies, and as I mentioned earlier, some other select personnel that have to be in close proximity with them. That number on average weekly will be around 400. As the mayor of Fort Worth was quoted earlier this week in saying they have facilitated conversations for us with UTSW, who have laboratories throughout the area, and we are confident that we’ll be able to conduct our testing in a manner that is not taking away from the community. We will be providing our own supplies and sourcing all of that, as well.

Q. Just curious, you’ve laid out there all the social distancing, obviously a lot of things you’re trying to keep in place. How are you going to try to monitor it? Is it you’re just asking them to be responsible? Will you be sort of watching and seeing that this takes place even away from the course?
TYLER DENNIS: You know, it’s interesting working with our medical experts, and I think we can kind of all relate to this. While we’ve gotten used to this, it’s easy to forget and sort of accidentally lapse and do something that is not recommended. Really the critical part of the first part of the answer to your question is we are going to really work hard on educating everybody, and it’s players, obviously, it’s caddies, but it’s everybody else, including myself, and really those key repeatedly thinks about all those key hygiene and sort of distance things we need to do, and beyond that, I think we’re going to try to create a culture where everyone is trying to help others out and conform with that.
I expect that from time to time people will forget, out of just common practice of playing golf all these years. So we’re going to work through those issues as they come up. But I’ve been really heartened in talking with our Player Advisory Council that players are focused on this, and they’ve been playing golf to a large extent, so they know kind of how it feels out there to do it, and so I have every belief that we’ll be very successful in achieving the socially distanced version of golf as we know it on the TOUR.

ANDY PAZDER: I’ll just supplement slightly what Tyler said. We’ll also be provided for each of our participant groups what we’re calling a resource guide, which will be issued in the next week or two, which will have even more detail about what’s expected of them, beyond the detail that you’ve seen in this presentation that Tyler and Andy gave.
I think Tyler mentioned in his opening remarks, we view this as a unique opportunity for the PGA TOUR, our players and our sport in general, to help lead the way from a sport standpoint. We take that responsibility to heart, and we are planning calls with other constituent groups to make sure that we answer any and all questions.
It will come down to on the field of play relying on players and caddies to have that social distancing requirement in the forefront of their minds. We’ll provide constant reminders. We’re confident that they understand the significant responsibility they carry in making our return very successful.

Q. Would a positive test be disclosed?

ANDY LEVINSON: Well, due to medical confidentiality restrictions, we would not publicize a positive test result. Of course an individual would have to withdraw from the competition, and if they were to share that information publicly, that would be their choice.

Q. There is presently a 14 day quarantine from people entering the United States from abroad; is the TOUR hopeful this can be circumvented by the time events start, or would you start with this in place?
ANDY LEVINSON: Yeah, that is currently in place, and it is likely to continue, and so it is imperative that those constituents that we have that need to come back in the United States do so at least two weeks prior to our return to competition.

Q. What will be the penalty for players and caddies who breach any of the off site protocols that limit their exposure to the general public?
TYLER DENNIS: So the answer I gave to the question earlier, ultimately just like all of our tournament regulations, rules and whatnot, the new requirements we have would be treated under our disciplinary process if needed.

Q. Are there any issues unique to Connecticut and Travelers with the state opening later than most, its Phase II perhaps not beginning until just before the tournament starts?
TYLER DENNIS: So we’ve been working closely with each of these events, including the Travelers Championship. The Travelers companies in Hartford have such a close connection to the state, and they’re very involved in all of the things going on there. So yeah, there may be some additional things. Just as a general point, we will absolutely follow all of the state and then down to the county, city level health department guidelines that we have to follow, and as we get closer to each event as there are specific things like that, we’ll certainly make you aware of them.

Q. Would there be a person number of positive tests that would cause the event to be shut down?
ANDY LEVINSON: No, there’s not a specific number that we’re focused on. You know, when there is a positive test, there does have to be some contact tracing that takes place, which is why social distancing is one of the many reasons why social distancing is so important. And so we haven’t identified a specific number, but obviously if it was a large number then we would have to evaluate the situation.

Q. I’m curious, you mentioned a positive test during competition would lead to a withdrawal by that individual. Obviously I’m curious with all the emphasis that’s on contact tracing, would there be any impact beyond that individual and his caddie, whether it be the group they played with the day before or anything like that?
ANDY LEVINSON: Every community will be doing contact tracing, and generally the guidelines with respect to contact tracing have to be an individual who has been in close proximity, inside that social distance barrier, for an extended period of time. And so again, to the earlier question, that’s why it is imperative that we emphasize and educate the social distancing point, so we’re not faced with that situation.

Q. I was wondering a little bit more about the charter situation and what would happen if a player was not able to book his spot on the flight in time or if there wasn’t enough room or just what the plans in place are for that.
ANDY PAZDER: I’ll take that question. The charter flights will obviously have a limited capacity and would not necessarily accommodate every player and every caddie, if 100 percent of the field that made the cut were to elect to travel in that manner. We do know and anticipate that a number of players and probably a greater number of caddies, if it’s drivable from one city to the next, will elect to do that. Players are also free to utilize their NetJet hours to travel privately.
And then lastly, of course, commercial air travel in the United States is up and running, and we’re confident that that industry will have a very, very stringent health and safety protocol themselves, from capacity limitations, disinfecting aircraft between flights and so forth. So that would be an option.

Q. How comfortable are you that you will be ready for fans at tournaments as planned in the release of the revised schedule?
ANDY PAZDER: I’ll answer that one. When we issued the revised schedule I believe it was April 16th, we stipulated in there that for at least the first four tournaments we would play without spectators on site. I considered that all along to be a placeholder and not some sort of a line on a calendar that we were pushing for the week of July 6 through 12 to be a point in time where we begin allowing some number of fans.
We are not wedded to any specific date. Obviously it’s going to be dependent on local, state and federal regulations that will largely dictate when we’re able to resume having some number of fans. I would absolutely anticipate that whenever that occurs, it would initially be on a limited basis to ease ourselves back into spectators being on site.
I think maybe what you might be referencing is some comments I read maybe late last week related to the Memorial Tournament. I would just say that tournament and others are parallel planning with spectators, limited number of spectators and without spectators. We obviously hope that there will be a point in time this summer where we are able to welcome back our fans on site, but as we’ve said from the very top of this call and every other call that we’ve done, we’re only going to return to golf when we can do it in a safe and responsible manner, and it’s certainly not going to be just so we can hit some target date that isn’t supported by the local state and federal authorities.

Q. I just wanted to ask, when you were talking about hotels, travel, things like that during the presentation, you were talking in terms of these were recommendations. Can I ask why they are only recommendations and not requirements?
ANDY LEVINSON: Sure, I will respond to that. These are very strong recommendations. As I did mention, there are a number of exceptions to that area, and to Andy Pazder’s point a moment ago about the commercial airlines, many hotel companies are going to be going to great lengths to ensure the health and safety of their guests, and if a player is most comfortable staying in a particular situation and is comfortable with that, then he may do so, just as he may fly on a commercial airline that he is comfortable with.
That being said, for these hotels that we are going to identify in each community, we’re going to be working with those hotels to take even greater precautions, and so we’re going to continue to educate our players and caddies to the benefits of those facilities versus any others in the community.

Q. With what we know about asymptomatic carriers, why is the TOUR conducting only one viral test during tournament week, which is upon arrival, and instead relying on temperature checks and questionnaires?
ANDY LEVINSON: So we know that the viral screen is that we’re using the PCR test will be effective in identifying asymptomatic carriers. Again, a test is a point in time; we understand that. But we also know that the precautions that we’re taking, our medical advisers are telling us that maintaining social distancing, asking people questions, going through thermal screens are going to significantly minimize risk of exposure, not to mention all the disinfecting procedures that we’re going to be implementing.
We do anticipate a lot of players playing week to week to week in consecutive weeks, and so they’ll be doing a pre travel test, they’ll be doing a test when they arrive in each market, and we feel that as our medical advisers do, that one test per week is a significant amount of viral testing, on top of all of the layered approach that we’re taking with everything else in our plan.

Q. Relative to the fans returning, I know you said you don’t want to stick to a hard date when they would come back, but I’m speaking to the tournament in Detroit being the fourth of those first four tournaments coming back without fans. Is there any chance you see of that changing where you would allow fans earlier, or are you kind of committed to those first four events of not having any fans?
ANDY PAZDER: Thank you. There will not be spectators at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Q. Just curious if there’s anything that could trigger the cancellation of an individual event that’s upcoming. Obviously, for instance, a spike in numbers of in that particular area or anything.
ANDY LEVINSON: Yeah, of course there could be, and we’re always monitoring the situation in those markets. We’re working closely with the local health authorities to understand what’s going on on the ground, and of course if there was a situation where it was not possible to provide all of our constituents with a safe and healthy environment, then we wouldn’t do so, or we would look for an alternate site.

Q. I had a question on testing. Did you say that the TOUR was going to be supplying all the testing, and can you say what kind of a cost that’s going to be, and secondly, in midst of all our discussions on COVID testing, will this have any impact on your regular random drug testing, PED testing?
ANDY LEVINSON: So I can’t speak to the costs at this time. We’re still working through the contracting of all that. But yes, the TOUR is covering the costs of all of that, and we look at the testing program as completely separate from the anti doping program, so those are two unrelated items as far as we’re concerned.
This is an important element to our return to golf and an important element to protecting the health and safety of our players and caddies and those that are traveling week to week, and so it’s something that we’re committed to investing in.

Q. I appreciate that they’re separate; I was just curious if you’re still going to be performance enhancing tests going on, if you’ll stick to that schedule?
ANDY LEVINSON: The anti doping program will be in place.

Q. Are the purses exactly the same? Obviously it’s a big issue with MLB and lack of fans, so some of the revenues are down.
ANDY PAZDER: Yes, our plan right now is to keep our purses at the previously announced levels. Keep in mind obviously we are in the middle of a 13 week break across all of our tours, and you look at somewhere north of $100 million in prize money that has fallen to the wayside. So our intent as of this moment certainly is to keep purses at the previously announced levels.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Thanks again. We really appreciate your participation. We look forward to our return to golf the week of June 8th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, and we certainly appreciate you guys. Please contact me directly if you have any questions regarding media operations and the media center setup at the Charles Schwab event. Thanks again, everybody.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports


Comments are closed.