Make no mistake: Everything needs to go right before the United States Open can be held in September. It certainly doesn’t help that Winged Foot Golf Club lies smack dab in Westchester County, New York, among the areas in the United States most affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. And even with state officials cautiously relaxing quarantine measures and, in fact, pushing for the resumption of sporting events, there is the not so insignificant hurdle of mobility. Ensuring the participation of the usual field of 156 players — who will be coming from any number of locations, including outside the country — presents unprecedented logistical concerns.

That said, US Golf Association heads bear more optimism now than early last month, when they moved the schedule from its traditional mid-June spot. Back then, holding the major tournament in abeyance looked to be a Hail Mary move; with the virus spreading fast and containment foremost in the minds of decision makers, resumption of any kind of competition was more a matter of if than when. These days, they’re confident not just of staging the Grand Slam stop, but of actually having spectators on site. In this regard, the outdoor sport lends well to physical distancing and other precautions aimed at ensuring an acceptable modicum of public health and safety.

No doubt, USGA honchos will be coordinating closely with state, local, and tour representatives. Parenthetically, they will see, and learn from, the experience of other event organizers; up first is the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Forth Worth, Texas, next month, a veritable litmus test on how a new normal can be instituted. And, in the 13 other official events — including the PGA Championship — between then and the US Open, the hope is that continuous improvement in the conduct of tournaments occurs.

Needless to say, fans are all for the sport getting back on its feet; as the exceedingly high ratings of The Match: Champions for Charity last week underscored, they’re starving for competition. More importantly, the players themselves can’t wait to wield clubs anew; for the first time in 34 years, the Charles Schwab Challenge will be graced by the World Numbers One to Five. “Our field is deep,” event director Michael Tothe was quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as noting. “It’s really come together nicely.” Which is why the USGA believes the worst to be over, with the best about to come.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.