Golf, like much of global sport, has faced unprecedented changes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 golfing season has been dramatically changed with most of the sport’s biggest events rescheduled or cancelled completely.
The Players Championship was halted mid-tournament due to the virus and there has been no competitive golf since.
With the four Majors yet to be played this year, there are plenty of questions surrounding the sport and how it will recommence when it is able to do so.
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When will golf return?
The Players, which was scheduled around the weekend of March 15, was cancelled after its first round as the PGA Tour was put on the hold.
The tour is currently hoping to recommence action at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas on June 11-14.
Meanwhile, the European Tour has had no action since the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters which finished on March 8.
Tour officials are eyeing a return at the Betfred British Masters in Newcastle on July 30 to August 2.
Golf fans did get to see some action in mid-May as Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a charity skins match in Florida.
When will the Majors be held?
Each of this year’s Majors have been changed due to the effects of the pandemic.
It was announced on April 6 that the 149th Open at Royal St George’s has been cancelled outright and rescheduled for July 11-18, 2021. The 150th Open will then be played at St Andrews from 10-17 July, 2022.
The 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco has been moved from May 14-17 to August 6-9.
The US Open at New York’s Winged Foot Golf Club has changed its dates from June 18-21 to September 17-20.
And the 84th edition of the Masters at Augusta has been rescheduled from April 9-12 to November 12-15.
Why was The Open cancelled?
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said on April 6: “Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open. We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but we have to act responsibly during this pandemic and it is the right thing to do.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible.
“There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with.
“In recent weeks we have been working closely with those organisations as well as Royal St George’s, St Andrews Links Trust and the other golf bodies to resolve the remaining external factors and have done so as soon as we possibly could. We are grateful to all of them for their assistance and co-operation throughout this process.
“Most of all I would like to thank our fans around the world and all of our partners for their support and understanding. At a difficult time like this we have to recognise that sport must stand aside to let people focus on keeping themselves and their families healthy and safe. We are committed to supporting our community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”
What have the Masters said?
On April 6, a statement from Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, said: “On March 13, we announced the postponement of the Masters Tournament based upon the risks associated with the Coronavirus COVID-19, a pandemic that continues to impact lives everywhere.
“We remain very mindful of the extraordinary and unprecedented challenges presented by the Coronavirus around the world. As such, we continue to keep in close contact with local, state and national health authorities to help inform our decisions.
“In collaboration with the leading organizations in golf, Augusta National Golf Club has identified November 9-15 as the intended dates to host the 2020 Masters. “While more details will be shared in the weeks and months to come, we, like all of you, will continue to focus on all mandated precautions and guidelines to fight against the Coronavirus. Along the way, we hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport.
“We want to emphasize that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials. Provided that occurs and we can conduct the 2020 Masters, we intend to invite those professionals and amateurs who would have qualified for our original April date and welcome all existing ticket holders to enjoy the excitement of Masters week.
“Thank you for your continued support and we wish you and your loved ones health and safety during these uncertain times.”
What will happen to the Ryder Cup?
There has been no official statement on the 2020 Ryder Cup yet and while it is still currently going ahead, it is in major doubt.
The tournament is set to be held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin between September 25 and 27.
Former Ryder Cup winning captain Paul McGinley believes it’s looking ‘increasingly likely’ it will be called off.
McGinley, who led Europe to a 16.5-11.5 victory at Gleneagles in 2014, told talkSPORT: “It’s increasingly looking like it’s going to be behind closed doors or postponed.
“We need to get our heads around the fact that in the short term governments are going to be very cautious.
“They don’t want to run the risk of a second or third wave of this virus coming through, so I can’t see them lifting all restrictions over the next few months.
“I think they are going to be very conservative in their approach initially [coming out of lockdown], and one of the ways in doing that is stopping forty or fifty thousand people coming together for a football or rugby match, or the Ryder Cup for instance.”