The trend toward fan-free tournaments gained new momentum on Monday when officials for the P.G.A. Championship announced that golf’s first major championship this year would proceed without spectators from Aug. 6 to 9 at T.P.C. Harding Park in San Francisco.
The decision was made in coordination with officials from the state of California and the city and county of San Francisco, taking into account the health and well-being of participants during the coronavirus pandemic.
The P.G.A. of America, which conducts the championship, had been considering moving the competition to another site, perhaps in the Southeast, although keeping the event in San Francisco had always been the preferred choice. The city last hosted a major tournament in 2012, when the United States Open was held at the Olympic Club. It will be the first major golf championship held at T.P.C. Harding Park.
In the interest of the health & well-being of all involved, the 2020 #PGAChamp will be played without spectators on-site.
“We are both inspired & honored to play on, grateful to the state of California & the city & county of San Francisco for being terrific partners.” Seth Waugh pic.twitter.com/VC1DG4gbh4— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) June 22, 2020
“We are both inspired and honored to ‘play on,’” said Seth Waugh, the P.G.A. of America’s chief executive. He added: “While the local community cannot be with us physically on-site, we will certainly carry their spirit of resilience and unity with us as we stage our major championship, on their behalf, for all the world to see and enjoy.”
In a statement, the P.G.A. of America said it would continue to monitor Covid-19 developments in concert with local and national public health authorities.
Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom said sports events could be played in California beginning this month under certain conditions, like a fan prohibition, and if they were approved by health officials.
There were no fans in attendance when men’s professional golf, suspended for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic, returned on June 11 with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth.
The P.G.A. Championship, originally scheduled for May 14 to 17, would be the first golf major of 2020 contested without fans but potentially not the last. The U.S. Open, which had been set for mid-June until it was moved to Sept. 17 to 20, has also discussed a fan-free event at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y. Officials for the Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., which was postponed from early April to Nov. 12 to 15, have said little about their plans but have privately discussed various contingencies, including barring spectators.
The P.G.A. of America also faces an arduous decision on how to conduct the Ryder Cup, a biennial international golf competition the organization also sponsors. The event, scheduled for late September at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, and renowned for its boisterous, partisan crowds, could conceivably be held without fans, but scores of pro golfers have called for the Ryder Cup to be postponed a year instead. Some players have suggested they will not play if the event’s fairways are not lined with raucous crowds.
At this point, only the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, scheduled from July 16 to 19, is planning to host a limited number of spectators. State officials there approved a plan that caps the spectators allowed on the course at 8,000 daily for the event.
The PGA Tour last weekend was in Hilton Head Island, S.C., where the RBC Heritage was also held without spectators, something the tour plans to continue as it hopscotches in succeeding weeks from Connecticut to Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota.