Whenever the European Tour is able to resume its tournament schedule, it figures to look profoundly different.
According to an exclusive report by The Telegraph's James Corrigan, European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has recently sent memos to tour members warning that there could be plenty of changes on the horizon for the circuit. Chief among them, according to the report: reduced purses, decreased tournament infrastructure and a condensed schedule that could include multiple tournaments in the same week.
As Pelley wrote in the memo (as obtained by The Telegraph): “Our tour has enjoyed a significant period of growth in recent years, in terms of prize funds, playing opportunities and the overall standard of our events, as well as our broadcast product. The impact of the coronavirus has stopped this rapid momentum in its tracks, and it will, in fact, require us to reassess many elements. You should therefore be prepared that when we do resume playing, the schedule and the infrastructure of tournaments could look radically different from what you have been used to. Many of the things you have become accustomed to, such as top-class players’ lounges or courtesy car services will most likely assume a different appearance, if indeed they are present at all.
"Prize funds will also most likely be different. … The reality is, the pandemic is going to have a profound impact on the tour financially, as well as many of our partners, both in sponsorship and broadcast areas."
When reached by Golf Channel, a European Tour spokesman said the tour had no comment on The Telegraph report.
Pelley and other key members of the European Tour have already taken salary reductions, and he said in the memo that some of the staff at headquarters has been furloughed. Already the tour has canceled or postponed 14 events, a number that is expected to rise with the virus still forcing shutdowns in Europe and three major championships now being rescheduled for the fall.
There is no potential start date for the tour to resume, though in the memo Pelley mentions the first week of September as a hypothetical. To make up for lost time, he says, the tour will look for innovative ways to provide members with playing opportunities. As he writes: “We are looking at options such as (a) multiple tournaments in the same location; (b) two tournaments in the same week, or three in a fortnight; or (c) three or four tournaments back-to-back in the UK with a 14-day ‘quarantine’ period ahead of that to allow players not from the UK to come over and self-isolate in advance, if that health requirement is still in place then.”
Last month, the PGA Tour outlined plans to financially assist its players and caddies, including an advanced-payment model based on projected FedExCup earnings. In the memo to his players, however, Pelley said that the European Tour is “simply not in a position to do that.”
Pelley also cautioned players that, because of the virus’ significant impact, the 2021 European Tour schedule “may look profoundly different to the 2019 or the 2018 schedule.”