PGA Tour Shutdown at The Players Championship Amid C19

Golf Channel

In March 2020, the Players Championship week dawned with a looming threat of a major storm on the horizon. The PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, was on a media tour in New York City, sensing that the brewing storm would inevitably impact the PGA Tour business. Back at TPC Sawgrass, the rhythm of the tournament week remained the same, but with added precautionary measures. Despite the ominous undertone, players and the PGA team alike were excited and ready for the championship.

The Change of Tune

While initial focus remained on the championship, and health department and CDC guidelines were being closely followed, concerns started to mount. Wednesday brought with it a flurry of alarming news, with the NBA shutdown being the most significant. With the NBA’s decision to suspend its season, the PGA Tour faced a larger and more immediate problem in the continuation of The Players Championship.

Deciding the Course of Action

After a sleepless night, the PGA team convened the next morning to discuss the tournament’s fate amid escalating concerns. Despite normal activities continuing elsewhere, the PGA team knew a drastic decision was needed. Midway through the opening round, it was announced that the tournament would continue, but with only limited personnel on site.

Facing the Reality

As President Trump announced travel bans and other sports suspended their seasons, the gravity of the situation intensified. Landmark venues, such as Disney World, announced shutdowns, adding further pressure to the decision-making process. The PGA team had to balance the desire to reach Sunday’s game with the increasing risks to health and safety.

Resolution and the Shutdown

After spending more than 12 hours in a conference room, the team came to a resolution. The critical question was what reasonable people would expect a responsible organization to do in a crisis. With the health and safety of everyone as the primary priority, the regretful announcement of The Players Championship cancellation was made.

Looking Forward

After shutting down for three months, the PGA Tour made a return in June at Colonial. Even amid the throes of a pandemic, golf emerged as a leader as one of the last major sports to shut down and the first to return. The 2021 Players championship offered a moment of reflection on a tumultuous year while reinforcing the commitment of players and the sport to rise above unprecedented challenges.

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