The PGA Tour will begin to let more people on site, beginning with next week’s WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
In a memo the tour sent to the players and released on Thursday, Tyler Dennis, chief of operations, outlined a program that will expand access to select tournament representatives and other VIPs while also reintroducing a limited honorary observer program.
Players’ spouses or significant others also will be allowed at the course during tournament rounds.
Dennis wrote that the tour is putting forth these steps, “which we believe do not diminish the health and safety plan that we have implemented” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes appear geared toward appeasing the tour’s umbrella sponsor, FedEx, which is the title sponsor of next week’s event in Memphis, Tennessee. FedEx pays a huge bonus pool to those who qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which begin next month and comprise a three-tournament run of events.
The new access program is expected to allow for an extra 500 people on site each week. Presently, around 1,000 to 1,200 people — including players, caddies, rules officials, PGA Tour staff, ShotLink operators, volunteers and media — are attending events. Spectators have not been allowed.
According to the memo, tournaments and title sponsors will be allowed to have a maximum of 50 guests per day, with restricted access to one or two specific structures. But they will not have access to the golf course.
All will undergo screening but will not be required to take a COVID-19 test.
The honorary observer program will see 16 two-person groups per day, with guests allowed to walk outside the ropes. Spouses will be allowed to attend tournament rounds, but no other family members will be allowed.
With pro-ams canceled for the rest of the season, a virtual player engagement experience will be conducted on Wednesdays, with participation mandatory for up to 30 players.
“These programs will be applied on a tournament-by-tournament basis, in accordance with State and local guidelines in place and at the discretion of the tournament,” Dennis wrote.
The events where this will take place are next week’s WGC-Fed Ex, with only the virtual player engagement at the opposite Barracuda Championship; Wyndham Championship; Northern Trust; BMW Championship; and Tour Championship, the season-ending event that concludes on Sept. 7.