When Haley Moore won the 12th event on the Cactus Tour in Sun City, Arizona, it wasn’t just a victory for her; it was a victory for golf, and for live sports events as a whole.
The balance between staying competitive and remaining healthy has been elusive for many events but the Cactus Tour has managed to do it.
Of course, the burning question: How?
A number of factors had to come into place for the Tour to happen and to happen successfully. Any one of them not being present could have knocked the whole event out of alignment. But it was this successful cocktail of ingredients – and the full buy-in of the players – that allowed the event (which had a range of athletes, from top high schoolers to top LPGA professionals) to move forward:
An allowable activity: Arizona, as with many other states' stay-at-home laws, currently deems golf as an allowable activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. This allows courses to be used and events to be played
No crowds: No spectators, period. And with a pent-up demand for competitive golf, you can believe plenty of people were following the action through both social and traditional media
Social (and competitive) distancing: The rules of the Cactus Tour included the following:
- One person per cart
- Twosomes rather than foursomes
- No handshakes, high-fives or hugging (players waved, said hi or at most, did the elbow bump in order to stay safe)
- A winner’s group photo in which the golfers practiced social distancing, standing an arm’s length apart
Sanitizing precautions: In order to minimize the possibility of transmission of disease through common handling of inanimate objects, the Cactus Tour rules included:
- No rakes in bunkers
- No water coolers
- No ball washers
- In some cases, pool noodles were used in holes rather than flags (easier to sterilize and harder for microorganisms to stay on)
The Cactus Tour plans to continue onward as long as it’s able to do so. Players who participated noted they had been under no pressure to do so; they simply wanted to get out, compete and enjoy their sport.
Count on the presence of the Cactus Tour to drive more golf events to its sites when competitive play resumes and when golf vacations (already something regular duffers are yearning for) become possible again.
And there are signs of optimism across the board in the golf world. According to The Golf Channel, the 75th U.S. Women’s Open, previously scheduled for June, will still take place in 2020. The new dates are December 10-13 in Houston, Texas.
It was actually the third women’s major of the year to be rescheduled. The ANA Inspiration was originally scheduled to be played this week but was moved to September 10-13. The Evian Championship was moved back two weeks to August 6-9.