Not only is golf back in England, but the PGA Tour have this week announced their formal restart to the season, which is scheduled to commence in just 4 weeks time. One thing this does mean is that we will finally have some live sport to watch, and because of the time differences it means there's actually something to watch on an evening that's not a repeat. But how will this affect the players and their caddies?
For a start, those players that are based over here in the UK will be subject to a 14 day quarantine period imposed on them once they arrive in the States. So realistically, people are going to have to confirm if they're going to play very soon to give themselves enough time to acclimatise. Prior to even arriving at the event, each player is going to be subjected to various testes to ensure that they're fit and healthy - if they fail these tests they won't be allowed anywhere near the event.
The theory is that all players and caddies will basically become one big family; they'll travel together, stay all in the same hotels where possible, and be constantly monitored to ensure that there is no way the virus can get in. If there are any kinds of symptoms or positive tests, that person will then be removed and forced into isolation for a minimum of 14 days.
Once at the tournament, the strict guidelines continue. Sanitising stations will be placed at every tee and green, and all objects on the course such as flagsticks ad rakes will be decontaminated at the start and end of every day, with caddies asked to clean them after each contact too. Players and their caddies are asked to try and maintain social distancing where possible (which I'm sure is easier said than done) with players encouraged to handle their clubs more than their caddies. This has then lead to Tour Comedian Eddie Pepperell asking if that means the players have to pick up their own clubs after they've thrown them!!
It has been confirmed by the PGA Tour that at least the first 4 events will be played behind closed doors without any fans. While this will seem very strange for both the players and for people watching at home, it could mean that we get to see a different side to some of the players. Depending on how the coverage works, we'll be able to hear a lot more dialogue between the players and their caddies that would normally be drowned out by crowd noises. It will, however, be very weird to see someone presented with a great big trophy and only have their fellow competitors clapping them on.