If you’re watching the TaylorMade Driving Relief event at Seminole Golf Club, you may have noticed that none of the four players — Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff — are touching the flagstick on the golf course.
Instead, only rules officials walking with the match are handling the flagsticks. Why aren’t the players touching flagsticks?
The players aren’t touching flagsticks because of the conditions set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and the state of Florida, which require operating golf courses to respect social distancing and other guidelines to prevent possible viral spread. Flagsticks are considered a shared surface, but unlike other shared surfaces on the golf course, they’re necessary for golfers to navigate a course and know where the hole location is on each hole. That’s why the rules officials are handling the flagsticks, to limit who touches them and keep them disinfected.
Before the round, all cups, flags and flagsticks were disinfected, with the goal of preventing the players from touching the flagstick or flag.
Other shared surfaces on the golf course have been removed, like bunker rakes. No one will be handling them, even rules officials. Additional shared surfaces that are being removed from golf courses nationwide include ball washers, benches and water coolers.
The goal in removing these surfaces is to eliminate the possibility of virus transmission when an infected person touches such a surface and unwittingly transmits it to an uninfected person who touches that same surface and then ingests the virus.
This is just an example of a number of safety precautions the PGA Tour is taking as event organizer to follow local laws and guidelines, as well setting a good example for the golf world that the sport can be played safely.