Even if no fans are present, the PGA of America plans to go ahead with the PGA Championship this summer.
The event, originally scheduled for May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park, previously was postponed until Aug. 6-9 at the same San Francisco course. Whether or not galleries will be there to cheer the golfers remains an uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The plan is to do it as normally as possible — with fans, obviously — and have a fairly normal PGA Championship at Harding Park,” PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said Tuesday in an interview on SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio. “If the safest and/or the only way is to do it without fans, we’re fully prepared to do that. We believe that having it as a television event is worth doing regardless of whether there’s fans there or not.
“Obviously that’ll change the experience, but we think the world is starved for entertainment — particularly in sports — and we think golf has the unique ability to be first out among sports in that we’re played over a couple hundred acres.”
Waugh also acknowledged that there is a chance the event could be moved if conditions remain dire in California.
On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said, “The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine. So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations. …
“When you suggest June, July, August, (mass gatherings) are unlikely.”
Looking at alternate courses
Waugh said Tuesday — before Newsom’s comments — “If California or San Francisco does not believe they can hold (the PGA Championship), we’d have to figure out a drop-dead date on that and figure out if there is somewhere in the country that could hold it.”
The golf schedule has been altered dramatically since the PGA Tour shut down due the pandemic after the first round of The Players Championship.
The Open Championship at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, was canceled. The Masters, which would have been held last week in Augusta, Ga., was rescheduled for Nov. 12-15. The U.S. Open at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., was postponed from June 18-21 to Sept. 17-20.
The first event on the PGA Tour schedule that has yet to be canceled or postponed is the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, due to be held May 21-24.