From The Inbox

PGA Tour’s revised schedule overlooks ‘volunteer problem’

With its business model built largely on free labor, reader contends, PGA Tour will have trouble getting those volunteers to work tournaments as coronavirus ebbs

With 13 states shut down for golf in the U.S. and the last round of pro golf played March 12, who would have dreamt that there is so much golf news to share, dissect and critique.

Based on golf’s most powerful and profitable organizations dropping a news bomb this week with an aggressive projected schedule for the remainder of 2020, there’s now endless debate as we move into uncharted territory during a golf ban in many states amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Morning Read’s Alex Miceli (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7) and Mike Purkey (“PGA Tour botches delivery with FedEx Cup,” April 7) offer brilliant interpretations of the absurdity of the latest announcement but fail to mention golf’s dirty little secret: Where are the volunteers?

Golf will not happen during the third week in June, not only because a golf tournament will need approval from local and state officials to allow thousands of fans to congregate, but because these tournaments function with their base of free volunteers. Memo to pro golf: You have a volunteer problem.

The PGA Tour and top professional golf tours have a business model that always has been based on a house of cards, under which Tour executives and players make millions off the backs of free labor or volunteers.

It’s about time that the PGA Tour and the powers-that-be reassess their financial strategies. No volunteers, then no tournament. In this spooky coronavirus world in which we live, finding hundreds of people to work for free will be impossible.

One positive alternative for golf fans resulting from the coronavirus crisis is that the PGA Tour, LPGA, USGA, PGA of America and Augusta National start paying people, once referred to as “volunteers,” who work the events. And, it’s about time.

With most tournament purses of $7 million-plus, the PGA Tour can afford to pay the rank-and-file help a $100 daily stipend.

The pro tours need to fix their “volunteer” problem before announcing a projected 2020 schedule.

Tom Gorman
Boston
(Gorman is the publisher of newengland.golf.)

Thanks, PGA Tour, for scheduling golf again
For those of us who believe the severity of coronavirus, aka COVID-19, lies somewhere between a population reset and “just the flu,” proposed scheduling plans by the PGA Tour and other professional sports leagues are most appreciated.

You have to think that the brain trust at Ponte Vedra Beach has access to far more data than do Alex Miceli (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7) and the residents of Boca Raton (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 7), and that commissioner Jay Monahan’s plan takes that data into account. I’m sure that the Tour has weighed the risks and measured them against the returns.

But there most likely will be spectator limits and controls. Spectator limits might even work to build the popularity of sports more than it was before. It worked with “Studio Wrestling.”

Charlie Jurgonis
Fairfax, Va.

PGA Tour’s proposed June restart is ‘reckless’
I agree with Alex Miceli’s assessment that the PGA Tour’s season restart in June is reckless (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7).

I live in Florida, and that time would be right in the middle of the state’s projected coronavirus high point.

Regarding the major championships, who really needs to see the Masters in November? Part of the tournament’s draw is April, with its beauty, and the Masters being the real start of the Tour season.

Not being a fan of the wraparound-season concept, I always considered the springtime coming of the Masters as special. I don't think it will be as such in the fall. Is it the TV revenue or the green-jacket guys pushing this?

Chuck Rhoades
Ocala, Fla.

PGA Tour applies cautious optimism to rest of 2020
Contrary to the pessimism by a portion of the population, the proposed scheduling of golf tournaments seems to be cautious optimism on the part of the PGA Tour (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7). Major League Baseball appears to be headed that way, also.

Other businesses have put into place contingency plans to ramp up services or manufacturing when the time is right. It seems logical that the golf business would, also.

If circumstances dictate that a golf tournament needs to be rescheduled, so be it. Caution overrides optimism in these times. But the sky is not falling.

For those out there who have their underwear in a bunch: Chill.

The cliché "expect the best, and prepare for the worst" seems appropriate here.

Dave Richner
St. Johns, Fla.

Irresponsible PGA Tour should follow science, not hype
The PGA Tour is acting irresponsibly by opening up tournament golf by June (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7).

The R&A has done the right thing by canceling the British Open, realizing the risks this virus has of subjecting crowds to non-social distancing.

The only reason why the PGA Tour wants to continue so quickly is financial, therefore putting profit before people's health. While I can sympathize with the sponsors – and, for that matter, the players – I am disgusted with commissioner Jay Monahan for not laying down the law. Eighty-five percent of the American people are subjected to lockdown and are likely to stay there for at least the next 4-5 months. Tournament golf should follow the science, not the hyperbole from agenda-holders in Washington.

Please, at this point, everyone stay safe and healthy.

Paul Sunderland
Los Angeles

PGA Tour should host events with no spectators
Why do the PGA Tour tournaments have to be attended live? Just broadcast the events and prohibit spectators (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7).

It seems as if everyone is looking for a binary answer when there are many ways to bring golf back and not feed into the media panic.

We are finding out quickly that this virus, although transmitted easier (it seems), is no worse than a bad flu season. In 2017-18, 60,000 Americans died from influenza.

Nick Genoese
Boca Raton, Fla.

Dr. Miceli’s prescription to fill space
Does Alex Miceli have a medical degree? (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7).

I understand his position as I understand the PGA Tour’s. Everybody wants some return to normal, and who really knows when that might occur?

Miceli is taking the path of a writer who is making a stand on his own assessment and thinks everyone should agree with him, while many of us shall sit and await the outcome. If nothing more, the schedule announcements will give the action-hungry consumers something to discuss (over the phones) and try to determine who will or who won’t be involved, providing another degree of diversion during self-quarantine.

I appreciate Miceli’s take, but is it really necessary, or is it just something to fill space?

Garen Eggleston
The Villages, Fla.

A glimmer of hope
I have to disagree with Alex Miceli’s recent article (“PGA Tour restarts schedule too soon,” April 7).

It was important to put a guide post out there for golfers, golf professionals, industry representatives and all golf enthusiasts, so we could all have hope that maybe we would see some kind of season in 2020. To do nothing would allow all of us to succumb to this terrible coronavirus that we will have to live with for the years to come.

Golf is the best social-distancing sport out there. It gives us beauty, excitement and physical activity, all wrapped up in a nice package. The PGA Tour and other organizations needed to do something sooner rather than later. Dates always can be changed or canceled. Announcing a schedule gives all of us something to look forward to.

I can’t wait to see how Augusta National will make its azaleas and dogwoods bloom in November. If anyone can do it, they can.

Mark Anderson
Alexandria, Va.
(Anderson is a PGA of America member.)

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