The PGA Tour returns after its long break in response to the coronavirus pandemic this weekend, June 11-14, with the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge. The tournament will be without spectators in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, creating a completely different environment for golfers and fans alike. The PGA Tour will be eager to prove that this is a viable way forward, and stars Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, defending champion Kevin Na and others are set to tee off.
The Charles Schwab Challenge was founded in 1946 and has Colonial National Invitation and has been played at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX since its inception. Only Augusta National, home to the Masters, has hosted a longer continual event. The tournament is 1 of only 5 tournaments on the PGA Tour that enjoy an invitational status, and involves a smaller field that is more competitive than many other events. The tournament is often associated with Fort Worth resident and Colonial member Ben Hogan who made the tournament one of the highlights of the year. Hogan, considered one of golf’s best ever players, holds the record for most wins with 5 and is honored all over the course and clubhouse, with a statue of Hogan overlooking the final green. Former winners include a long list of the best golfers in history, including Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus. The lowest score is held by Zach Johnson following his 2010 win with a score of -21.
The Charles Schwab Challenge raises millions for charity each year, with money going to many different national and local organizations. Some big benefactors include the Charles Schwab Challenge Military Home Donation which donates mortgage-free homes to combat-wounded veterans. In addition, money will be going to support essential workers through the Texas Health Resources Foundation. The tournament also supports the First Tee Fort Worth's mission is to impact the lives of young people by providing learning facilities and educational programs that promote character development and life-enhancing values through the game of golf.
The PGA Tour is emphasizing safety as it heads into the restart. All players and caddies will be tested prior to traveling to Fort Worth, and again on their arrival. Players and caddies will also have their temperatures checked throughout the event. In addition, media and staff will also undergo testing and social distancing will be enforced. The PGA Tour has emphasized that it will not take away resources from local communities, though remain hazy on how they plan to do this. Namely, they are committed to not tying up local labs with testing for pros and caddies and plan to contract ahead of time in order to find labs that can manage the extra testing. The PGA Tour has also chartered private flights for golfers to the event to limit exposure, with all passengers tested before boarding. In addition, the players and caddies will not be allowed to bring family to the event and will stay in a designated hotel. The hope is to create a sort of controlled island or “bubble” for the PGA Tour which can be easily monitored. However, players aren’t required to travel by chartered plane, raising questions as to whether this could be a source of infection. The tournament will also not end if a player or caddie tests positive. Players testing positive or who present symptoms will be forced to drop out from the competition and quarantine for 10 days. However, the PGA Tour will not publicize if any player tests positive and appears ready to allow any playing partner to continue playing provided they test negatively.
The tournament is set to have primetime coverage with live studio coverage and interviews held while maintaining social distancing. Television coverage will begin on Golf Channel Thursday and Friday from 4-7pm ET. Weekend coverage begins on Golf Channel 1-3pm ET Saturday and Sunday before switching to CBS 3-6pm ET. The event is also streaming live on PGA Tour Live Thursday-Sunday with coverage of featured holes and groups. Radio coverage is also available through PGA Tour Radio on SiriusXM satellite radio and streaming online at PGATour.com/liveaudio.