By Sally Fahey
America’s MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL can learn a thing or two from golf as they struggle to find a way to come out of the pandemic pause.
Though leagues like South Korea’s KBO, Germany’s Bundesliga, and even NASCAR here in the States have already begun competing again, golf seems uniquely suited to avoid any coronavirus-related setbacks.
Team sports are at an obvious disadvantage given the need to interact with other players on a regular basis, and even “individual” sports like NASCAR or Formula One require pit crews.
But golf, which now has plans to return on both sides of the Atlantic with the PGA set to resume on June 11 in Texas, is about as siloed a competition as you’ll find.
Golf Digest reported yesterday that the European Tour plans to resume play in late-July with the British Masters, followed by three more legs throughout the U.K. in a “bubble” tour that uses on-site hotels at each of the four venues.
And Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning are facing off against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady (above) this Sunday in The Match: Champions for Charity.
That doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing from here on out.
“Your caddie is going to be the one person that it’s going to be very difficult to always practice social distancing from,” Dustin Johnson told the New York Times last week.
Some caddies, like the LPGA’s Missy Pederson, have tested positive despite showing no symptoms and following safety protocols. And some players, like Lee Westwood and Adam Scott, aren’t ready to dive back into the tour without first seeing what the quarantine and testing protocols look like in practice.
It’s all a balancing act right now. Fans want to watch sports, athletes want to play, owners want to stem the financial bleeding and no one wants to start things up only to see a few positive tests shut it all back down. But somewhere in the middle, there’s a solution, and golf might hold the key.