The PGA Tour reiterated its social distancing and testing policy ahead of the resumption of the pro golf season starting in June.
Officials said they understand that players and caddies will likely be close to each other, but they also wanted players and employees alike to understand the changes for the coming resumption of play.
Participants will be tested once per week, the PGA said, but they will also undergo pre-screening and daily temperature checks before hitting the links, ESPN reported.
“We view this as a unique opportunity for the PGA Tour, our players, and our sport, in general, to help lead the way from that standpoint,” said the PGA Tour’s chief tournaments and competitions officer Andy Pazder. “We take that responsibility to heart.”
“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,” Pazder added.
Tour participants will submit to a required pre-travel nasal swab or saliva test for the coronavirus that will likely be administered at a PGA-designated hotel. Officials say that tests will be returned as soon as 48 hours. Those refusing a test will not be allowed to participate.
Officials also sent out a 32-page memo to players on Tuesday outlining the new safety regimen before play resumes on June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.
The first four matches will be played without fans on the grounds, officials noted. But that may change if conditions warrant it, they added.
“It’s really a layered approach that we’ve taken, and the heart of it is social distancing,” said the senior vice president and chief of operations, Tyler Dennis. “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.”
Officials also noted that a positive test for the virus would not necessarily put a halt to the tournament.
“When there is a positive test, there does have to be some contact tracing that takes place, which is 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,” Andy Levinson, the tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration, told the media.”
“A test is a point in time, we understand that,” Levinson continued. “But we also know that the precautions 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.”
Levinson concluded, saying that the one test per person, per week recommendation, was made by the tour’s medical consultants, adding, “that one test per week is a significant amount of viral testing, on top of the layered approach that we’re taking with everything else in our plan.”
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