Golf caddies wonder how close is too close

Written by on May 14, 2020

Missy Pederson is keen to get again to work caddying for the two-time main winner Brittany Lincicome on the L.P.G.A. Tour, which is scheduled to resume its season in July, 5 months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus disaster. “I’m chomping on the bit,” Pederson mentioned on Tuesday in a phone interview from her dwelling in Minnesota.

Pederson’s enthusiasm, nevertheless, had been tempered by the outcomes she had simply acquired. Regardless of taking what she thought had been all the mandatory precautions — venturing out solely to buy meals for herself and to ship meals to others in her group whereas sporting a face masking — she examined constructive for Covid-19.

“It’s undoubtedly induced me to cease and actually take into consideration how we need to strategy this,” Pederson mentioned.

Pederson’s analysis illuminates the challenges confronting golf — particularly the caddies, swing coaches and trainers whose jobs usually carry them into shut contact with gamers — as the game snaps out of its pandemic-induced hibernation. How can caddies talk successfully with their gamers about distances or membership selections when they’re standing no less than six ft aside?

Pederson mentioned she was the primary individual she knew to have examined constructive for the virus. “That’s why it makes me so nervous when persons are so assured that it’s completely time to get again enjoying or are completely towards it,” she mentioned. “You possibly can’t with 100 p.c certainty say the way you may contract it.”

On the identical day that Pederson acquired her analysis, the PGA Tour, which is eyeing a mid-June return in Texas, despatched its members a 37-page doc outlining a course of assault that it hopes will present “an instance for different skilled leagues out of the gate” as they search to renew suspended seasons and start delayed ones.

The tour’s plan requires insulating the gamers in a sort of made-for-TV diorama that features their caddies, a restricted variety of tour personnel, clubhouse workers, swing coaches and impartial trainers at every match web site. They’ll all be required to undergo pre-event viral testing, day by day well being questionnaires and temperature checks, and to observe six-foot social distancing pointers. Tournaments can be off-limits to brokers, managers, members of the family and spectators to scale back potential publicity to the virus.

PictureJohn Wood, who caddies for the nine-time PGA Tour winner Matt Kuchar, said he will consider wearing surgical or golf gloves on both hands.
Credit score…Andrew Redington/Getty Pictures

Off the course, the gamers and caddies can be inspired to not stray from the tour’s remoted environs, which features a designated resort and chartered flights from one match metropolis to the following. “That is an effort to maximise the well being and security of all individuals contained in the bubble,” the plan mentioned.

Regardless of the tour’s finest laid plans, the protecting bubble might burst the primary time a participant is unsure in regards to the yardage or the break of a putt and requires a second set of eyes.

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“Your caddie goes to be the one person who it’s going to be very tough to at all times follow social distancing from,” Dustin Johnson, the former world No. 1, mentioned Thursday in a teleconference.

One other participant on the teleconference, Rickie Fowler, joked that he’ll maintain a membership like a fencer’s sword to maintain his caddie, Joe Skovron, from getting too shut. When speaking over yardage or membership choice, Fowler mentioned there can be no extra whispering. “We would have to talk up somewhat bit greater than regular to speak from quite a lot of ft away,” he mentioned.

Matthew Wolff, the third participant on the decision, envisioned a state of affairs wherein no one comes between a participant and his or her caddie.

“One factor that I heard is that I believe it’s essential to possibly keep together with your caddies, or anyplace that you just go, your caddies goes as nicely,” Wolff mentioned, “as a result of that means if you happen to’re being secure and also you’re ensuring that you just don’t have it, your caddie could be like following the identical guidelines as you, and if you happen to each get it, then I’m sorry.”

John Wooden, who caddies for the nine-time tour winner Matt Kuchar, mentioned he’ll contemplate sporting surgical or golf gloves on each fingers as an additional precaution however would in all probability eschew a face masking until it’s required.

“I received’t be capable to breathe on the market and my glasses will get all fogged up,” Wooden mentioned in a phone interview.

He added, “The one factor I’d fear about is a secondary outbreak.”

Pederson shares Wooden’s concern. She determined to get examined for Covid-19 after growing a number of of the telltale signs, together with a lack of scent and style. It took two weeks for her to obtain her outcomes.

“It’s not one thing that any of us needs to be taking flippantly,” Pederson mentioned, including, “It needs to be a type of issues the place there’s an absolute, unwavering dedication to make sure that all people is secure.”


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