Golf

Report: Memorial to allow fans and use technology to ensure social distancing

The Memorial could be the first PGA Tour event to reopen with fans, and people on the course grounds will be wearing badges equipped with chip technology to ensure social distancing.

The Memorial could be 1st first PGA Tour tournament to allow fans on the grounds

A general view of the 18th hole and clubhouse during the third round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on June 1, 2013 in Dublin, Ohio. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

People on the course grounds during the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, this summer will be wearing badges equipped with chip technology to ensure social distancing.

That's according to the tournament's executive director, Dan Sullivan, who took part in an online meeting held by the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, with Golf Digest reporting his comments.

The Memorial was scheduled to take place June 4-7 but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was moved to July 16-19.

Sullivan said the tournament officials will take a number of precautions as they prepare for play with a limited number of fans in the gallery. There won't be any grandstands, staff and volunteers will have their faces covered, hand-sanitizer stations will be added and no cash will be accepted on site during the tournament. Everyone who enters the grounds will have their temperature taken, too.

Sullivan said the badges will use an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip to identify where people are gathering at Muirfield Village Golf Club. The names of people won't be known — just their location.

"At any time we can know around the golf course how many people are collecting in a certain area," Sullivan said. "We're going to use that technology to make sure that we're protecting everyone around us, protecting the folks that are inside those various venues and make sure that we're monitoring effectively and producing a tournament that everyone can be comfortable with."

He said some of the tournament marshals will be able to follows the RFID chips and work quickly to disseminate any crowd.

The PGA Tour has been on pause since mid-March and plans to resume June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The Schwab and the subsequent three tournaments — the RBC Heritage, the Travelers Championship and the Rocket Mortgage Classic — will not allow spectators.

It is undecided whether the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., scheduled for July 9-12, will have fans on the course.

"It's a common misconception based on the initial news release that the first four events are not having fans ... but it never really said our event is going to have fans," said Deere tournament director Clair Peterson, per Golf Digest. "We're trying to work through all of the obvious considerations, which includes all of the Illinois restrictions. They're pretty serious about what they're laying out for the rest of the summer, so we're staying on top of it, making sure we're following the rules.

"Who knows? Memorial could be the first event with fans if we do not have them, but they're in the exact same position of not knowing what will be permissible. But they have to make every preparation possible, as we are."

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