The PGA Tour returns to action next week with the Charles Schwab Challenge, but the first time fans will be allowed attend an event on the restructured scheduled will be at the Memorial Tournament on July 16-19 at Muirfield Village in Columbus, Ohio. The Memorial delivered a plan to the state government of Ohio for the attendance of fans, and it was approved this week by governor Mike DeWine.
"In all of these cases, these sectors have come up with plans that reduce the number of people, provide for sanitation, and in some cases, provide for one-way traffic," said DeWine. "They are elaborate plans that we believe are consistent with protecting the public."
The tournament announced in a tweet that because of "state approval and support from the PGA Tour," it has decided to allow fans to attend one of the higher-profile customary events on the PGA Tour. This is a tournament that Tiger Woods has won five times, most recently in 2012.
The Columbus Dispatch, which viewed a document created by the Memorial organizers, notes that a maximum of 8,000 patrons will be permitted on the course at a time. That is approximately 20% of the event's maximum capacity. Furthermore, nonsurgical masks will be required for all attendees with few exceptions, temperature readings will be conducted at all entrances and media attendance will also be severely limited. Ticket information will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Memorial presented by Nationwide would like to recognize the successful efforts led by Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted and Dr. Amy Acton in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
The state of Ohio has been a leader in identifying the tremendous threat that began to appear in January and was one of the first to take drastic action to curb the spread and reduce deaths. Their implemented plan has produced encouraging results and allowed for the slow process of opening the state to business and gradually allowing Ohioans to return to a level of normalcy, including the ability to permit patrons at this year's Memorial.
With the support of the PGA Tour, who the Tournament has worked jointly with throughout this process, the Memorial is looking forward to partnering with state, county and city leadership, along with the Memorial COVID19 task force, to offer the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide as an example of how public gathering events can be developed and implemented with approved and accepted protocols in place.
While further details are not yet known, this is a significant step in the return of golf as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a threat.
Though fans will be allowed to attend the Memorial, they will not be permitted at Muirfield Village the week prior as it steps in to host a previously unscheduled PGA Tour event sponsored by Workday. The first four events -- Charles Schwab Challenge, RBC Heritage, Travelers Championship and Rocket Mortgage Classic -- of the new schedule will also be held without fans.
The Workday tournament (official name still to be determined) replaced the John Deere Classic, which was canceled because of the pandemic. As it is being hosted at Muirfield Village the week before the Memorial, some golfers could play eight straight rounds in Columbus.