When the PGA Tour returns to tournament play next month, nobody in Las Vegas will be paying closer attention than Patrick Lindsey.
The executive director of the Shriners Hospital for Children Open, Lindsey won’t care as much about the leaderboards as how these early PGA Tour events are being run in the middle of a global pandemic.
“We’ll be watching these first four events without fans and, fingers crossed, see how it goes,” said Lindsey. “We’ll be learning from the events before us, following best practices and building the best tournament we can for our players, our fans and the community.”
Lindsey and his team have the luxury of watching four months of play and 19 tournaments unfold before the Las Vegas event rolls around Oct. 5 to 11 at TPC Summerlin. That time will be spent communicating and learning from PGA Tour officials, other tournament directors and local government and medical experts.
“We know it’s going to be a different event this year. It would be shortsighted of us to think otherwise,” said Lindsey, who is running the tournament for the sixth year.
Lindsey and his staff have been preparing different models for the 2020 event, everything from a normal event to a significantly reduced tournament to one without any spectators on the grounds. In every scenario, the safety of players, staff, volunteers and fans is at the top of the list.
“We have to make sure everybody feels comfortable,” he said.
The PGA Tour has outlined extensive plans for the testing of players, caddies and essential personnel at every event on its schedule, which begins June 11 in Fort Worth, Texas. They have also outlined travel, housing, transportation and other specifics for every tournament to follow.
Lindsey and his staff will work hand in hand with the tour to implement all of it in Las Vegas.
A few small steps have already been taken, including a decision that the Shriners will be an exclusively mobile event to avoid too many people touching actual printed tickets and passes.
No matter which scenario eventually plays out, volunteers to work the tournament are continuing to be sought. About 300 have already signed up at shrinershospitalopen.com. Lindsey believes this year may bring out a larger than usual group of volunteers looking to get outside and do something in a safe environment.
Despite the challenging circumstances Lindsey can’t wait for tournament week to roll around.
“We’re excited to have this event for our community and to support a great cause,” he said.
■ The second made-for-TV golf event in as many weeks arrives today with Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning taking on Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida (noon, TBS, TNT). They will play best ball on the front nine and alternate shot on the back nine in a match that will raise $10 million for coronavirus relief efforts.
Expect a little more pizzazz than last weekend’s Taylor Made Driving Relief Skins Game thanks to having the two most successful golfers of their generation, two superstar football players out of their element, and color commentary from Justin Thomas and Charles Barkley.
■ The USGA finalized its 2020 championship schedule last week which now includes just four events: U.S. Open, Women’s U.S. Open, Men’s Amateur and Women’s Amateur. All will have their fields determined by exemptions, eliminating traditional qualifying events. That includes the cancellation of local qualifying for the U.S. Open that had been slated at Boulder Creek Golf Club in Boulder City and Genoa Lakes Golf Club in Genoa.
Greg Robertson is a freelance reporter who covers golf for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.