Tour plans constant testing, limited access for golf return

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FILE - In this March 15, 2019, file photo, Russell Knox, of Scotland, is shown during the second round of The Players Championship golf tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Players, caddies and key staff around them will be tested once a week for the new coronavirus, and everyone at the golf course will have their temperatures taken every day when the PGA Tour returns next month and tries to show it can resume its season with minimal risks. And the tournament wont shut down if someone tests positive. Such a player would have to withdraw immediately and self-isolate for at least 10 days provided there are no subsequent symptoms and he gets two negative test results 24 hours part. That was the No. 1 concern, said Knox, who serves on the Player Advisory Council. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Players, caddies and key staff around them will be tested once a week for the new coronavirus, and everyone at the golf course will have their temperatures taken every day when the PGA Tour returns next month and tries to show it can resume its season with minimal risks.

Testing was a big part of the process outlined Wednesday that revealed significant changes to how tournaments are conducted.

No pro-ams. No spectators for at least a month, perhaps longer. No family members. No dry cleaning. And social distancing everywhere from the clubhouse to the practice range.

“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,” said Andy Levinson, senior vice president of tournament administration for the tour. “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 limiting access to certain areas, keeping groups separated.”

It starts June 8-14 at Colonial with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas.

Testing and social distancing was the backbone of the 37-page presentation titled “Return to Golf Events.” The idea is to keep players and essential staff in a bubble, and those estimated 400 people would be tested for COVID-19. Players would have a designated hotel unless they had other options the tour approved. Charter flights were made available for $600 a seat ($300 for caddies), and another test would be required before they fly and when they land in a new city for the next tournament.

Everyone on site will have thermal readings and a health questionnaire daily.

“We’re not going to play if we can’t do it in a safe and healthy environmental for all our constituents,” said Tyler Dennis, the tour’s chief of operations.