By Ken MacLeod
The 2021 Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa is just over a year from now, and Championship Director Bryan Karns is hoping our current crisis has subsided enough by then to allow Oklahoma golf fans to truly enjoy the return of major championship golf to the state.
With the Thursday announcement that the 2020 championship was cancelled, we can all just hope that life has returned to a state somewhat resembling normalcy by that point. A vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, effective treatments, a cycling down of its transmission, all would be welcome news in the current climate of rampant uncertainty.
This year’s event was scheduled May 21-24 at Benton Harbor, Mich., where the entire state is currently under a stay-at-home order. With the great uncertainly about other tournaments and the limited options for rescheduling late in the season in a northern state, the PGA of America decided to cancel rather than postpone.
“This was not an easy decision, we know how much this Championship means to our Southwest Michigan community, and the positive impact it has on our local economy, however the health and safety of our community is our priority” said Jeff Fettig, Chairman of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
Bryan Karns, championship director of the 2021 event, has pushed back most promotions until later in the summer when hopefully there will be some clarity on the future of the sporting world. With the curve of infections expected to crest in Oklahoma in late April or early May, he is currently working from home on preparations and allowing the event to keep a relatively low profile until then.
“This is all just totally unprecedented,” Karns said today. “Right now everyone has 100 things on their mind and the best thing we can do is put a pause on this. Assuming we get to the other side of this in late spring or summer, we’ll begin promotions and this will give us all as a community something to look forward to in 2021.”
The long-term impacts of the pandemic on tournament golf are just beginning to be contemplated. When and if the PGA Tour season resumes, it will likely have to do so without bleachers. Corporate tents will certainly be affected. Golf courses have plenty of room for fans to spread out but when they are allowed back in it will certainly be under a new set of guidelines. Those same issues will affect PGA of America events, such as the still uncertain scheduling of the 2020 PGA Championship.
“All those things are things we’ll look at going forward,” Karns said. “Right now it’s hard for everyone to wrap their head around what the future holds, but the beauty is we can adapt. Right now we’re just taking in as much information as possible and trying to understand all the ramifications. We have some smart people doing some critical thinking about all the issues that will be involved.”
For those interested in volunteering or reserving tickets, go to www.srpga.com.