If you are yearning for news on when we could have some normalcy back in the sports world, professional golf has provided a glimpse of what things might look like for the rest of 2020 — even if it comes with a grain of salt.
Golf’s glut of governing bodies released a coordinated plan Monday morning to return to play, confirming that The Open Championship is off but that the other three majors will still — for now — play late in the second half of the year.
For the first time ever, we’ll have a fall Masters, with the green jacket set to be awarded in the heart of football season on Sunday, Nov. 15. The U.S. Open will take a post-Labor Day slot at Winged Foot the week of Sept. 14-20. A Golfweek report last week indicated the U.S. Open may move to the West Coast even later in the year, dependent on the British Open potentially taking that week in September. With the British outright canceled for 2020, the U.S. Open then moves into that week in September and remains at Winged Foot (for now).
The PGA Tour has made plans for additional events during the summer weeks that would otherwise have had the U.S. Open, British Open, and the Olympics tournament. As of now, the FedExCup Playoffs and Ryder Cup will get to hold down their traditional August and late September slots, respectively. The Tour expects to fill in the June and July schedule with some of the cancelled and postponed events from March, April, and May.
Let’s start with the positive spin here first. There’s nothing wrong with setting some aspirational dates to get back to a sense of normalcy, and back to things that matter quite a bit to a lot of people. In a news cycle filled with increasingly grim headlines, it would certainly be refreshing mentally to have some dates to look forward to when we might get to see Tiger Woods walk across the Hogan Bridge again, or Brooks Koepka lap the field at a US Open. While you can argue there’s value in planning ahead and not having to revise unrealistic expectations, we’re living in a new world where everything is fluid and these dates can always be adjusted or canceled.
But it’s worth noting this is all optimistic. Gavin Newsom questioned President Donald Trump’s proclamation that football should return in September with fans in the stands, saying he didn’t expect that to happen in his state. A theoretical PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco would come on city-owned grounds a month before that date. Based upon those guidelines, it feels improbable that some or even most of these big events would be able to host fans as part of this plan to return to play. It’s fair to assume that golf’s governing bodies didn’t make these decisions in a vacuum without talking to medical experts, but pro golf is also a business and there’s massive amounts of revenue on the line here. Of course there’s going to be a bullishness to return to play.
Even with all these plans, it’s still unclear exactly when golf will return. As it stands now, the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial from May 21-24 is still on the calendar, but there’s been rampant speculation that all events prior to the original June 15 U.S. Open start date could be cancelled as Covid-19 persists in the coming days and weeks.
Here are the rest of the schedule changes, directly from the PGA Tour release:
The LPGA had previously announced its plans for a revised schedule on Friday, April 3. They are targeting a return to play on June 19 in Arkansas. Traditionally the first golf major of the year, the ANA Inspiration in April, has a new date in September. The U.S. Women’s Open, originally scheduled for the first week in June, also has a new date the first week of December in Houston.