May 22, 2020 - Sports

Golf could set the standard for sports' coronavirus reset

Spectators gathered at the 2019 British Masters
The 2019 British Masters. Photo: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

As sports and leagues around the world desperately try to figure a way back to competition, golf seems primed to set the standard for which all other sports will strive.

The state of play: 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.

Driving the news: 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.

Yes, but: 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.

The bottom line: 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.

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