Letter to PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan
MICHAEL BENIDT·FRIDAY, APRIL 24, 2020
Dear Mr. Monahan,
I’ve been a volunteer at the Solheim Cup, the US Senior Open, the BMW, and for several years now, the Waste Management Phoenix Open. That does not make my arguments any better, but please hear me out.
Might you please reconsider your decision of not allowing fans when play resumes on the PGA Tour at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Ft. Worth, Texas?
What if the PGA announced that free tickets will be given to all first responders, doctors, nurses, grocery workers, truck drivers, and anyone else who has braved the virus by showing up for work? The Quicken Loans National honors the military in this way, providing tens of thousands of complimentary tickets to Veterans.
Having viewed major tournaments from inside the ropes, it seems to me that PGA Golf is perfectly set up for a reduced level of attendance while maintaining social distancing. A golf tournament with 1/3rd the fans (for instance) would be heaven for the fans. They’d actually get to see over the often hundreds of heads in front of them. The American people have all shown that they can and will abide by social distancing rules in a myriad of settings. They would certainly do so with golf. And, the glory of golf is that it is played outdoors, which is far better than an enclosed arena as far as virus transmission is concerned.
And consider this. By mid-June, all of America is likely to look and feel much different than it does today. Already, even during the virus shutdown, grocery stores, Target, Home Depot, and others have been operating very well with the guidelines of social distancing and facemasks. Soon, other stores and then restaurants will be joining them. By mid-June Americans will have returned to beaches and hiking trails and a golf tournament played without spectators may well seem unusual to them, if not downright goofy.
Not allowing spectators might even seem overprotective of the golfers themselves. Think of how it might be spun by the press that millionaire golfers are being protected in a cocoon of special treatment. Clearly the early tournaments will have to distance the fans farther from the golfers. Golfers would not sign autographs. But, simply by adjusting the ropes, a reasonable level of protection for the golfers can be achieved.
Golf without fans is like the PGA without a mission. As the most socially conscious of all sports, allowing our medical and essential workers to attend might just be the mission of a lifetime for the PGA.