When the PGA Tour resumes — which is currently scheduled for June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas — one of the biggest concerns for players will be traveling to and from events.
The first four events upon return will mean a long jaunt for players looking to play their way back into form. Starting at Colonial in Texas, the PGA Tour moves to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, then to Connecticut, then to Michigan. In normal times, the travel wouldn’t be an issue, with players able to travel based on their budget, with a range from cars to commercial air to private planes.
However, commercial air is a major concern for a variety of players at this point, with issues ranging from limited schedules to the potential health risk posed by flying in a metal tube for hours with even as much as one asymptomatic person with COVID-19. So, the PGA Tour is reportedly looking at making travel from event to event easier and more reassuring for players.
According to Alan Shipnuck of Golf Magazine, the PGA Tour is planning on chartering jumbo jets as transportation.
Ooooh, little nugget of news from the Scottsdale Open range: when play resumes the PGA Tour will charter jumbo jets to ferry players and caddies from tournament to tournament, helping to keep them in a germ-free bubble.
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) May 11, 2020
This would make sense on multiple levels.
First, the Tour would help assuage the fears of players who aren’t necessarily concerned about the virus when playing and competing at tournaments sites but have more issues with getting to and from tournaments. With proper testing, the Tour can essentially assure every passenger on a charter that they will be safe and not flying with infected fellow passengers. Even if players are asked to chip in to cover the costs, the fare will be worth it.
Second, it’s also a potential incentive for players to continue playing several weeks in a row. With all but a one-week break in the proposed PGA Tour schedule between now and early December, players — particularly higher-ranked, more-secure players — will have to pick and choose stretches during which they’ll play. Perhaps higher-profile players will commit to playing more events if safe, private air transportation is handled for them.
Shipnuck did not report if the Tour would help players with transportation home after a stint of playing events, though that seems unlikely as it would be difficult and costly to coordinate. But, taking care of players and caddies who are going onto the next event is a key safety gesture.
The PGA Tour is set to announce its safety protocols for a resumption of play, including testing frequency and other issues.