The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the worlds of business and sports has quickly become more far reaching than we could have imagined. Our business will be affected, as will the lives of our friends and family. We are all feeling the strain of the unknown and the stress and anxiety a crisis can cause.
We want you to know that your Association is doing everything we can to mitigate risk and lead in a challenging time. Times like these give us a moment to pause and to assess changes that our facilities and association can pursue…to act in a way that reflects golf’s values among our constituents, and to stand tall knowing that we are the keepers of the game.
First and foremost, in challenging times like these, our utmost priority is on the health and well-being of our members and all involved with the work of the PGA.
While at least the next few weeks will prove challenging for our entire society, the golf industry will need to be prepared to come back strongly after things return to normal. We should be preparing now to take the necessary steps to reassure the public about the many benefits of our game, facilities and Professionals.
As such, we are thinking pragmatically about the Association’s business through the framework of our long-term strategic plan with focus on our members, game, business and people. For the purposes of this letter, we’ve bucketed the communication into three areas:
- PGA Professionals, their facilities and the golf industry
- Our Championships and events
- The operations of the Association and Sections.
PGA Professionals, their facilities and the golf industry – Communication is key. Yesterday, PGA Chief Membership Officer John Easterbrook sent a note to the membership outlining that PGA HQ staff will be operating remotely effective Monday; while Valhalla and PGA Golf Club remain open to the public. We also provided a set of common-sense recommendations for consideration by operators. We have committed to keeping PGA Professionals up-to-date through “Five Things to Know” and PGA.org on a regular basis. From an MSR and education perspective, please note the following:
- MSR Cycle – Extend the MSR cycle deadline from June 15, 2021 to June 15, 2022, for all Members. This is due to a number of MSR activity opportunities – meetings, education, tournaments, player development – that could be postponed or canceled. Additionally, this relieves pressure on Sections and Members to conduct or take part in these activities during this unprecedented time of uncertainty.
- Acceptable Progress – Extend the Acceptable Progress deadlines of all PGA Associates by one year. As travel to the PGA Education Center is currently curtailed, PGA Education staff is exploring online opportunities. With the uncertainty of testing sites remaining open, this provides flexibility with regard to Associates meeting their deadlines.
- PGA Golf Management University Students – 14 of our 18 GMU’s have currently cancelled classes and have moved to online delivery. PGA Education Staff will work with the universities directly in regard to needed accommodations within the Criteria and Standards.
- PGA Associates – We have cancelled pending seminars at Port St. Lucie through April. 81 individuals were impacted and we are refunding everyone’s registration fee and charging them back at a discounted rate. The team is looking into online options that could be adopted in the future. Teaching & coaching and Executive Management is offered on a quarterly basis and therefore have not been impacted.
Championships and Events – At this time, we are working closely with state and local public health and government officials in Texas, California and Michigan and Pennsylvania regarding the playing of our upcoming events: The PPC, PGA Championship, KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and the KPMG Womens PGA Championshiop. With the PGA TOUR canceling of The Players Championship and its next three events; the LPGA postponing its next three events, including its first Major Championship, after already cancelling three tournaments in Asia; and Augusta National postponing the Masters, we will be asked many questions about the status of our Championships and events.
We will continue to evaluate the status of each event every two weeks and provide further updates when available. Our hope is that the situation will improve, and once cleared by public health authorities, our events could be a welcome a “return to normal” in some form. That said, the health and well-being of all involved is our first priority and mandates from public health authorities will guide our decisions.
Due to recent NCAA actions, our PGA Works Collegiate Championship and the NextGen Spring Nationals are being cancelled as of today.
Association/Section Business – As noted above, we have asked all staff to work remotely for the foreseeable future in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our team. We would recommend that all PGA Sections follow our lead in this area. We have stressed to our staff how important it is that we continue to operate at an extremely high level to serve our Members and Sections during this period.
In addition, we have put a travel ban in effect both internationally and domestically. Again, we would recommend that you do the same. For at least the next four weeks, we also recommend that you postpone any group gatherings you are planning to host. And most importantly, stay close to what your state and local officials advise for your area. In addition, with the PGA Tour event cancelations, the corresponding qualifying events are also cancelled. Please let those participants know immediately.
PGA Member Assistance Program
People are understandably concerned about their health, jobs and future. During these unprecedented times, the PGA Member Assistance Program provides confidential, professional counseling and online services for a wide array of personal and well-being concerns. We encourage you to remind your fellow Members they can seek help at resources.pga.org. In addition, online guidance on preventive health and safety measures we can all take are available from the CDC.
We pledge to communicate relentlessly with all stakeholders and be open at all times as this situation inevitably evolves. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time with questions and concerns. Remember that we are all in this together, will get out of it together and be that much stronger for the experience.
Suzy Whaley, President Jim Richerson, Vice President John Lindert, Secretary