Sports

Pro golf plans to be the first major sport to return during the coronavirus pandemic

Key Points
  • The PGA Tour plans to be the first major sport to return to play during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The first planned tournament starts June 8, and will be played without spectators.
  • The PGA Tour says its number one priority is health and safety of fans and players.
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PGA Tour to resume play on June 8 without fans

The PGA Tour is looking to be the first major sport to return to action following the coronavirus outbreak, but there will be one key change when players return to the links for the June 8 Charles Schwab Challenge. There will be no spectators in the stands.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Alley" to talk about golf's return and how the decision was made at a time when coronavirus has infected more than 2 million people around the globe. 

Monahan said the Tour didn't take the decision lightly and he and his team spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about the logistics of the return and getting feedback from their players.

"We've had over 10 conference calls, some lasting two hours, as we've thought about our resumption," Monahan said.

The discussions have included Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Charley Hoffman and about a dozen other players who sit on the Tour's policy boards. 

"Our players are eager to return, excited to inspire this country, but also know that in announcing the schedule, we are going to do so in a safe and responsible way," Monahan said. 

It's not surprising golf is the first sport to return. Being an outdoor sport played on hundreds of acres of land, it is more conducive to social distancing than many other professional sports. The Tour said the first four tournaments will be spectator free and they will then make decisions on future tournaments based on the advice of federal, state and local governments.

When it comes to testing players, the Tour said it's working with its medical experts and are closely following the developments of large-scale testing capabilities and rapid-response type tests to develop a protocol for potentially testing players in the future. 

Another issue is travel. With travel restrictions in place around the world, the logistics of getting the 93 Tour members from 28 countries to and from tournaments has been a major focus for organizers. Officialssaid they are continuously monitoring travel, border restrictions and other issues that may impact their players abilities to get to and from tournaments. 

In addition to his role as PGA Commissioner, Monahan is a member of President Donald Trump's economic advisory panel that is advising the federal government on how to reopen the country and jump start the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic. The panel is made up of the major sports commissioners, several team owners and CEOs. 

Monahan said the president recognizes the important role of sports in our culture and called the leaders together to share some of the challenges they are facing as they think about the resumption of play in their respective sports.

"To be able to share that with the administration, to hear from other leaders and other sports about how we're thinking of returning, and then getting access to resources to help us connect to these challenges is very, very helpful," Monahan said. 

The Tour is also making several changes when it comes to it's upcoming schedule. The 2020-2021 season will feature an unprecedented six majors. Monahan said the Tour has worked together with the PGA of America and other industry leaders to identify the best possible schedule for fans and players. 

"I think it was really important as a sport to come together to present a schedule that we knew our fans would love that would help our sport re-emerge," Monahan said.