Colonial tournament director on PGA Tour returning: ‘Golf is a little different’

Professional sports returns back next month. It’s true. It is May 1, and the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, starts on June 11, which is just under six weeks from right now.

There are many hurdles to clear between now and then, and several roadblocks that could feasibly keep this from happening or delay it once again, but each day that passes is one fewer day we have to wait for the return of the PGA Tour and golf at the highest level.

Charles Schwab Challenge tournament director Michael Tothe joined CBS Sports HQ this week to discuss some of those hurdles and what his event has been doing to prepare for a fan-less tournament that starts in 41 days.

“We’re working hard to make sure that all the safety protocols are in place for when we return to golf,” Tothe said. “We’re really excited about launching the PGA Tour calendar and being back at it. We’re working day and night, hand in hand with the PGA Tour and Charles Schwab to ensure everyone on property is safe and sound in these times.”

Tothe noted that the decision to be the first event was an easy one and that there “wasn’t any hesitation.” Though the folks who put on the event aren’t excited about not having fans in attendance, he said they completely understand the scenario. 

More broadly, Texas is a natural landing spot for the Tour. Earlier this week, Governor Greg Abbott partially reopened the state, which paved the way for something like this to take place without pushback. That won’t be the case in every state as the PGA Tour presses forward, but it is true in this one.

“It’s a glimmer of hope that we’re getting back to normal life,” Tothe said. “To have the opportunity to showcase Fort Worth, Colonial Country Club, Charles Schwab and PGA Tour golf is really exciting. Golf is a little different. We can exercise social distancing more so than contact sports.”

Golf certainly is a little different. It’s not infeasible for it to be played without fans in a responsible way, depending on what guidelines, rules and testing is put in place. However, the elephant in the room that folks are not addressing right now is travel. Over 125 players plus their caddies and teams getting to and from these various events is a difficult task under normal conditions. Under these global pandemic conditions? It feels herculean.

That doesn’t mean it won’t happen, only that it’s maybe the biggest barrier that nobody has discussed. Regardless, it does appear that golf could be the first pro sport that returns to the field of play — which makes sense in a lot of ways — as a country still ground to a halt wonders when (if ever) life is going to go back to the way it used to be.

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