Officials at the PGA Championship are considering three scenarios for the major championship scheduled for Aug. 6-9 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Speaking on Sirius XM radio on Tuesday, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh discussed various possibilities for the event in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ideal, but seemingly least likely situation, according to Waugh, is to hold the event as planned with fans. The second option is to hold the PGA Championship without galleries. The third scenario is to move the event to another state.
“If the safest and/or the only way to [hold the PGA Championship] is to do it without fans, we’re fully prepared to do that,” Waugh said. “We believe that having it as a television event is worth doing,, regardless of whether there’s fans there or not.”
Fate of PGA Championship Undecided
Waugh might not have much of a say in whether or not fans can attend the tournament. The COVID-19 pandemic hit California hard and the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, has closed golf courses and limited crowds to 10 people or less. Newsom told reporters on Tuesday he is not optimistic fans will be allowed at the PGA Championship.
“The prospects of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get herd immunity, and until we get to a vaccine,” Newsom said. “Large-scale gatherings that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers … is not in the cards based on our current guidelines and current expectations. “When you suggest June, July and August, that is unlikely.”
If the stay-in-place order is still in effect in August, Waugh said the PGA Championship could possibly be held at TPC Harding Park without fans.
“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 said.
Third Option Not Ideal
Having the PGA Championship at Harding Park would still require more than 100 players and caddies. In addition, rules officials, tournament support staff, television crew, and other essential personnel would be needed.
That might not be possible if the governor’s mandate that people stay at home, and large crowds are to be avoided, is still in effect. In that situation, Waugh said the PGA of America would have to try and hold the tournament somewhere else.
“If California or San Francisco does not believe they can hold it, 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,” Waugh said.