It's a new decade. A new season. Actually my 5th season on the Symetra Tour! And I'm not going to lie, calling myself a veteran now is really weird.
As many of you know, I don't have great status on the Symetra Tour this year so I won't be getting into a lot of tournaments. But I'm just going to cut to the chase because most people would probably like to know what's going on inside my head being a touring golf professional with the sports world basically at a complete standstill right now.
I'm going to give you a little inside info that players don't always talk about.
Every year at the beginning of the season (usually first event), we have a huge players meeting at the course. I happened to be in Florida this year at the time so I attended the meeting. And because this year is the Symetra Tour's 40th anniversary, we had special guests – Eloise Trainor who started the tour 40 years ago and Mike Whan, LPGA commissioner.
We talk about the usual stuff like rules changes, introducing staff, important regulations, etc.. But this year Mike Whan (not Mike Nichols who is the Symetra Tour business officer), got up and gave it to us straight. He talked about LPGA Qualifying School changes, Ladies European Tour becoming a part of the LPGA and the future plans of the LPGA, the use of range finders on the Symetra Tour and very likely the LPGA Tour in the future, sponsorship, purse sizes, and most importantly COVID-19 and its potential future impact for the Symetra and LPGA Tours.
At the time of this meeting, COVID-19 was not considered "serious" in the U.S.. But over in Asia, everything was already on lockdown.
Mike explained a few things in what determines tournaments being cancelled or postponed, but what it comes down to is how serious the local and federal governments and health officials of a country feel the situation is concerning the spread of COVID-19. At the time, he said he had no foreseeable plans to cancel/postpone any more LPGA or Symetra Tour events besides the Asia swing that had already been cancelled on the LPGA. But he said it all comes with a caveat, "the situation is day by day". And he was 100% spot on.
Less than a week later, both California events on the Symetra Tour were cancelled and it didn’t come as a surprise to me. The situation had escalated very quickly in Europe and had already made its way over to the U.S. rapidly with little resistance. As of right now, I have a feeling more Symetra events will be cancelled because in the span of 3 weeks since we first had our meeting, the U.S. went from under 200 cases to over 43,000 cases and the number is growing rapidly.
As many of you know, pretty much all professional golf tours, have cancelled/postponed events through at least the end of April including the year's first majors – the Masters and the ANA Inspiration. It's unprecedented, but it needed to be done.
I, personally, wasn't expecting to get into an event until the end of May at the earliest, so in reality, my season hasn't actually started yet.
My take on the whole situation is that as an organization, the LPGA/Symetra Tour acted pretty quickly and decisively on what needed to be done according to what the government and other major league sports organizations decided to do. I support any further cancellations and postponements they have to make because health and safety comes first for players, staff and fans. We are not a contact sport, but being interactive and social during tournaments is a huge part of what we do. I do think the situation with COVID-19, in general, should have been taken more seriously way back in January when we first knew about it, but this is not a time to think about "should haves". We just need to do everything we can to make sure that the virus doesn't continue to spread; those who do have it are monitored and treated properly; and we support health care workers by being personally and socially responsible by not giving them more work that could've been prevented.
As for myself, I will practice in my house in Canada. The dome I usually practice at is closed until further notice. My golf course won't be opening until mid-April -- barring any other instructions from the government to close if necessary. And I will not be travelling to the U.S. because our borders have been shut down to non-essential travel. Don't worry about me though because I actually work at Walmart Canada part time so I'm not broke! And yes, I will be taking a lot of health and safety precautions as I work to help customers.
The golf world will survive this. The sports world will survive. The economy will survive this. The earth and environment will probably thrive because of less pollution. But the bottom line is that some people will not survive this. And we are trying to prevent that number from rising any higher than it already has. It's at unprecedented times like these where we remember we really are all in this together as citizens of Earth. There are no countries, no races, no economic status that this virus will not effect. I honestly could care less about golf right now. It's something I love to do, but as a person, I want to make sure my family, friends, co-workers, community members, and other people in general are doing okay. And I hope you feel the same.
Thank you for reading my first and very unconventional post of the year! Remember to spread love and compassion during these difficult times and not germs! God bless us all!