PGA Wins Race to Be First Major Sport Back from COVID-forced Hiatus

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Things in the US are slowly starting to return to normal. It couldn't come too soon for sports fans and the sports wagering industry with bettors being forced to rely on Belarusian soccer and Table Tennis to get their betting fix. Last week, it was announced that the PGA TOUR would resume their schedule with some major adaptations, and so far, that goal hasn't yet been derailed by the unpredictable and cruel COVID-19 pandemic.

PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan announced April 16 the TOUR's desire to commence their season saying: “The health and safety of all associated with the PGA Tour and our global community continues to be our No. 1 priority, and our hope is to play a role – responsibly – in the world’s return to enjoying the things we love”.

Golf's return marks the emergence of actual live sports on TV for fans to enjoy and gives needy sportsbooks marketable, sellable, real-time action that has been sadly lacking in all of our lives the last couple of months.

 

What tournaments can we look forward to?

It all begins with The Charles Schwab Cup, scheduled to start June 11 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The TOUR will attempt to host 28 events over the next 25 weeks including 3 Majors and all of the stops on the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

So far, the only Major that has been cancelled is the British Open, although there are whispers of the PGA Championship (rescheduled for August 6-9) may still be skipped due to the fact that it is slated for California, one of the states most active in their COVID-prevention measures. Other tournaments like the Canadian Open have been sacrificed in 2020 as the PGA tries to fit in 28 of its 49 yearly events.

The Masters, usually played the second week of April, will now be played November 12-15 and US Open went from its June 18-21 date to Sept. 17-20, a week before the Ryder Cup is played in the last week of September.

 

What is going to be different?

Golf is going to look different for at least the foreseeable future as the world climbs out from the COVID-19 hole. First and foremost, the first four events on the schedule, and possibly beyond, will be played without spectators. Fan interaction, although not as critical as other “stadium sports” will be missed. After all, there is nothing that quite resembles a golf-clap!

The customary handshakes as well as some other social-distancing measures will be in place for the golfers when it goes ahead. That said, most of what we see will be status-quo, both on the competition and the sports betting ends of the events.

 

Issues ahead

Unprecedented times present unprecedented issues and the re-opening of the PGA season highlights that fact. First and foremost are the current global travel restrictions that threaten to hinder the

appearance of many of the international stars of the sport and their caddies. Without some of the sports' elite, some of the tournaments may not be the same.

And then there are states' social distancing rules that prohibit gatherings and live sporting events. In California, word from Governor Gavin Newsom is that live sports in that state would be on hold until at least the end of the summer, which directly impacts some of the stops on the proposed schedule. Other states are still under stay-at-home orders that the PGA TOUR would be violating if and when they are fully operational.
 

A win for the PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR and golf betting on the whole has been one of the nice surprises during the evolution of legal betting in the US. Both have seen some exponential growth, thanks in part to its early embrace of sports betting. The PGA has a nice share of the betting market with increased numbers seemingly each and every week.

Being the first Major sport back to action should give the TOUR increased exposure from both fans and sportsbooks. “Potential upside is of course quite significant, as the PGA Tour would have everyone’s attention,” Patrick Eichner, PointsBet‘s director of communications said. “Their competition would not be the NBA or NFL, but rather along the lines of Russian table tennis or Nicaraguan soccer.”

In the event the PGA does open when it says it is, the number of bet types would increase from the typical 100, almost immediately. Sportsbooks, just like they did for the NFL Draft will be offering far more wagering opportunities than in typical years to capitalize on what should be a huge event.

 

But…

Despite all of the potential issues ahead for the PGA TOUR it will be nice to see real athletes doing their thing in real-time. No matter how it golf looks, fans and bettors of sports will likely welcome the PGA back with open arms.

The agony of the of the COVID-sports shutdown has been excruciating and the PGA’s willingness to resume is a sign that things are starting to get back to normal. Sports fans and the legal betting industry are counting on it!

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