HARTFORD, Conn. -- When the PGA Tour comes to Connecticut next month, it will be armed with an extensive, aggressive plan for COVID-19 testing and social distancing protocols for the Travelers Championship.
"We've been working closely with each of these events, including the Travelers Championship," said Tyler Dennis, the PGA's chief of operations, on a conference call with national media on Wednesday. "The Travelers Companies in Hartford have such a close connection to the state, they are very involved in all the things going on there. There may be some additional things, but we will absolutely follow all the state, and down to the county, city level health department guidelines we have to follow."
The PGA Tour has plans to resume on June 11 with its stop in Fort Worth, Texas. It is committed to staging its first four events as TV-only, without fans on the course. The Travelers, at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, is fourth on the list, June 25-28.
Though fans, which usually number in the hundreds of thousands, will be absent from the Travelers, the PGA must figure out how to get golfers and caddies, and essential support staff, to Connecticut, housed safely, and stage the competition. Golf has been played in many places, including Connecticut, during the shut-down period, but not in competitions of this size.
"Just to be perfectly clear," Dennis said, "we're not going to play if we can't do it in a safe and healthy environment for all our constituents."
Gov. Ned Lamont gave his blessing to the plan, when revealed in mid-April, to play the Travelers without fans. The state is on track to meet his criteria for the first phase of re-opening on May 20. Lamont has mentioned June 20 as a possible date to begin the second phase.
That, coupled with the PGA Tour's guidelines, should allow the tournament to be played.
"As we get closer to each event," Dennis said, "if there are specific (issues), we'll certainly (address them)."
The PGA has produced a 37-page document with testing and safety protocols, and intends to create "a bubble" around a tournament's participants that extends on and off the course. Players and caddies will be tested prior to each tournament as a condition of competing, including a questionnaire, thermal reading and nasal swab test. Participants will have limitations during the 48 hours it will take for the results of the swab tests. Players and caddies will be screened before traveling to a tournament venue, and upon arrival with all three methods. The questionnaire and thermal reading will be repeated every day during the tournament.
The PGA Tour will not do any testing that dips into a local community's resources, officials stressed.