FORT WORTH, Texas – Much of what the PGA Tour tried to do in the run-up to this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge can best be described as a fundamental behavior shift.
Among the changes outlined in the Tour’s return-to-competition plan, players were advised to remove and replace golf clubs from their bag and caddies “should” remove, tend and replace flagsticks and clean the flagsticks before replacing.
If early action on Thursday at Colonial was any indication, players and caddies will need some time to adjust to the new COVID-19 golf etiquette.
“I'm always going to pull the club out, and I'm always going to hand it [back] to [caddie James Edmondson]. You're going to see it every day,” said Ryan Palmer, who hit the day’s first tee shot. “That's just the way the game is. We're all taking risks playing golf, obviously. Being back out here, everybody leaves the club, they're going out to dinner and doing things, so everybody is taking that risk to be here. Everybody is pretty confident that we're going to all be safe.”
The Tour has been careful throughout its plan to return to competition in reminding players that they will need to adhere to the guidelines and that the sports world will be watching closely for the next few weeks.
On Wednesday, the Tour sent a mass text message to players and caddies reminding them of the need to maintain social distancing guidelines and even extended the space required between player and swing coach to 10 feet.