Golf's leaders collaborate on revised schedule for pro tours

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan

The spread of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the sports world, and golf is no different.

Professional tours have suspended operations while shifting tournament schedules and postponing events practically on the fly. The state of flux is forcing golf’s tour commissioners to collaborate on their new schedules to ensure events line up and remain in sync.

“As a matter of practice, our team communicates with industry partners on a regular if not daily basis,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in an email to the Sports Business Journal. “It’s essential for all the groups within golf’s ecosystem to collaborate more than ever during this global crisis to ensure we successfully return to normal day-to-day operations … when it is deemed safe to do so by the necessary health organizations and government agencies.”

The annual professional golf calendar is carefully orchestrated to allow each tour to have moments in the spotlight. It is easy to see how the shuffling marquee events, and major championships in particular, can have a ripple effect. The Masters and PGA Championship have already announced postponements, and the U.S. Open will reportedly be next. The LPGA has postponed its first major, the ANA Inspiration, to September. The commissioners must now work with closely with each other, along with event organizers, to slot the tournaments back into place.

Then there’s the Olympics. Last week, the 2020 Tokyo Games were officially postponed to next summer, and on Monday a new date was announced: July 23-Aug. 8, 2021. As luck would have it, the 2021 men’s British Open at St. Andrews is slated one week prior to the Games. The Women’s British Open usually follows the men’s Open, and if that were to happen next year, they would be staged right in the middle of the Tokyo competition. So, one would assume the LPGA will shift its event accordingly, but it’s an example of how quickly things can domino if golf’s top tours don’t collaborate.

And so the respective commissioners are working things out among themselves in an ever-evolving environment.

“I’d love to tell you that the coronavirus brought us together but we were tight before that,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan in the SBJ story. “We are all just trying to make it work and figure out what the season looks like. There are not a lot of people you can look to. Membership-based organizations are different. We all feel responsible for the game.”

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