Golfers playing through bizarre is new normal

Players at the Charles Schwab Challenge who participated in virtual press conferences on Tuesday stated they accept and support the conditions imposed for the first PGA Tour event since the abbreviated Players Championship in mid-March, protocols that involve both testing for coronavirus and restrictions on the golf course. Still, the “new normal” is likely to take some getting used.

After arriving in Fort Worth, all 148 players in the field (and their caddies) had to undergo a nasal swab test. Players, caddies and others then received a temperature scan of their foreheads and answered a series of questions about COVID-19 symptoms in order to gain entry to Colonial Country Club—a routine that will be recurrent daily throughout the entirety of the tournament.

Once on the grounds, Tour officials have encouraged everyone to keep space between themselves and others, creating some unusual breaks from the routine found at most tour events. “You’re getting your own range balls,” said Jordan Spieth, the 2016 champion at Colonial. “You’re scooping your bucket.”

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The PGA Tour enacted these sweeping regulations and recommendations in order to ensure the safety of everyone involve in staging a return after its longest break—March 12 to June 9—since World War II.

As one of the first professional sports to resume play, golf has a chance to set an example about how sports can return to some form of responsible competition and entertainment.

To do that, however, the participants must take ownership, Speith said.

“A hundred percent. I totally think we all as players have responsibility for it to go off very smoothly,” he said. The Tour has limited the number of people who can be on the grounds, allowing no spectators or family members of the players to be in attendance. There is none of the usual infrastructure you find at a Tour event, no grandstands or hospitality areas or fitness trailers. What there are plenty of, however, are hand sanitizers stations throughout the course.

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