It was inevitable that PGA Tour players such at Nick Watney and Cameron Champ and a couple of caddies would test positive for coronavirus, but only time will tell in this pandemic if the conversation gets uncomfortable as the tour’s return to golf progresses into summer.
The tour has adjusted its safety protocols, which you can read about here, and let’s hope for the health of players, caddies and officials, not to mention the fans who are enjoying this diversion from the world at large that the brakes don’t need to be applied to the season once again.
Still, there are people asking the question about how many cases would force the tour to make such a tough call. The reinforced bubble around on-course players and staff is protection against some very disturbing numbers on the outside.
In the United States, the new cases that were reported on Wednesday set a single-day record. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. had recorded 2.3 million coronavirus cases and at least 119,000 deaths at that point.
Those numbers are worrisome, not only for the tour, but U.S. citizens in general, or at least the ones I’ve chatted with during the pandemic. They will likely lead to the U.S.-Canada border shutdown extending beyond its current July 21 expiry date, affecting an event, such as the CP Women’s Open, which I wrote about here.
The chances of a highlight of the year for golf industry types on this side of the border is also growing with the U.S. numbers.
In April, we asked readers in a GNN Poll how they would describe the possibility of the 2021 PGA Merchandise Show being cancelled. The majority, or 55 per cent, said it could possibly be cancelled, with 32 per cent adding it will very likely be cancelled and just 13 per cent believing it will be held for sure.
The show is scheduled for Jan. 26-29, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Even if it is held or scaled down, the number of people there, either buyers or other attendees or exhibitors, is likely to be small compared to other years.
It goes beyond border closures if one is still in place for Canadians, who represent the second highest attendance at the show behind the U.S., or travel restrictions for other countries. One even wonders how many American citizens will want to wander too far from home, given the numbers coming out of Florida right now.
On Wednesday, the state reported a record 5,508 single day new cases and 44 more deaths, the same day Canada reported 279 more cases and 30 deaths by comparison.
Not only is the host state of the show experiencing high numbers, renowned golf states such as Arizona, California and Texas have each set records for new cases this week. Each would send large contingents to the show.
In Florida, governor Ron DeSantis has said he has no plan to backtrack on reopening the state’s economy, so it appears right now that the numbers won’t subside anytime soon.
Add to that the pandemic’s economic consequences on potential exhibitors and attendees from both sides of the border and you can bet they’ll be questioning the cost of airfare, hotels, booth space, etc., not to mention the potential health risks for their employees.
The show is still seven months away and a lot can change for better or worse in that time, but a call will likely be made in October on whether it runs or not in January.
Let’s hope things change for the better because a change for the worse would not only be bad news for the show, but the state’s and country’s entire population.