The Coronavirus and recommendations for social distancing as a preventive measure has made a major impact on golf as it has on other sports.
The experts in the field of contagious diseases believe social distancing is the only remaining way to slow the spread of the virus. Most of the sports world understands, but still has questions.
The NBA has suspended its season. NASCAR will hold races, but without spectators. Major league baseball has canceled the rest of spring training and delayed the start of the regular season by a few weeks.
The PGA Tour, college golf, high school golf and state organizations have all acknowledge the concerns for the health of spectators and participants and are taking different approaches to the challenging situation.
The PGA Tour announced after the completion of the first round of The Players Championship that the rest of the tournament would be cancelled.
The Tour also announced that it will cancel all events in the coming weeks on all affiliated Tours. The decision affects the PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Korn-Ferry Tour and MacKenzie Tour.
The PGA Tour events that will not be played are The Valspar Championship starting on March 19th. The World Golf Championship starting on March 25th and the Valero Texas Open beginning on April 2nd.
The next event on the schedule is The Masters beginning on April 9. While the first major event is on the PGA Tour schedule the association has nothing to do with the actual championship. It is run by the Augusta National Golf Club.
Rumors are circulating that the Drive, Chip and Putt contest for junior golfers and the Augusta Women’s Invitational will be cancelled.
One widely offered rumor suggests the Masters could be played without any spectators.
The PGA Tour has scheduled a major press conference for Friday morning. The conference may shed some light on the fate of the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head Island scheduled for the week after the Masters and the rest of the schedule.
Instead, the NCAA has cancelled all spring sports championships and in effect ended the possibility of finishing the spring portion of the college golf schedule.
“There still are a lot of questions to be answered about this, but the season is over,” said Clemson head golf coach Larry Penley. “Our guys go on spring break next week, but the way things look everything is going to be very different when the break is over,” he added.
The Tigers are coming off an exceptional performance at the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Intercollegiate at the Palmetto Golf Club in Aiken earlier this week.
Jacob Bridgeman captured the individual title and Clemson won the team championship. All five Tigers finished in the top-20.
“This is really disappointing. Jacob Bridgeman is ready to let college golf know what an exceptional player he is and our team did a lot of good things,” said the coach.
At first it appeared there might be some hope of restarting the season after a break and an opportunity for the entire country to get a better idea of the challenges faced by the coronavirus.
However, when the NCAA cancelled “March Madness” and followed it up with a notice that all spring sports championships were cancelled it ended hope of completing the season after a suspension.
The decision to cancel the spring championships affects the Clemson golf program more than most teams.
The Tigers were scheduled to host an NCAA Regional at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls after the ACC Championship this year.
Since NCAA tournaments are scheduled three to four years in advance it is unclear if the Tigers would get to host the regional next year or have to wait for the next open slot on the NCAA schedule.
An end to the Furman season would shorten an outstanding year for senior Natalie Srinivasan.
In the most recent GolfStat individual ranking Srinivasan moved up to the number one ranking in the country after an impressive runner up finish at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at Hilton Head.
SCGA, CGA and WSCGA
The three major amateur associations for golf in the Carolinas are all monitoring the coronavirus situation.
The SCGA has announced that at this time there are no planned schedule changes to any SCGA conducted event.
The CGA also intends to continue its schedule this spring.
The Carolinas Golf Association has added a notice that if any participant, who has registered to play in an event, has some concern about their health or being exposed to others they can withdraw from the event and have their entry fee returned.
The WSCGA will also continue their schedule as planned. The state organization encourages golfers to maintain good sanitary conditions and will provide disinfecting wipes and sprays at events.
All three organizations note that they will continue to assess the conditions for play in the coming month to insure the health and safety of all participants.
The South Carolina High School League met to consider what action they may take concerning the corona virus on Thursday.
Reports from the meeting suggested that the HS League would leave decisions on sports activities to the individual school districts, but they would meet again next week to continue discussions.
Several school districts will not allow their sports teams to travel out of the state.
SCISA has canceled activity for spring sports until April 6 as has high school sports in the entire state of North Carolina has been suspended until that date.