This weekend, Fort Worth is hosting a televised sporting event that doesn’t have fans in attendance due to the coronavirus, but follows specific health and safety procedures for its participants.
The PGA Tour’s Charles Schwab Challenge began on June 11 and will continue through June 14 at the Colonial Country Club.
It is the second live sporting event held in this Texas city this year; the IndyCar Genesys 300 race happened at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6 and was also closed to the general public.
“The Charles Schwab Challenge is typically held every year over Memorial Day weekend,” said Tournament Director Michael Tothe. “Due to the pandemic, this year’s event is being held three weeks later.”
Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth has hosted Charles Schwab Challenge for the past 74 years, according to Tothe, but for 2020 all PGA Tour events prior to this one were cancelled. “We were the next event to be decided upon, and in harmony with the city of Fort Worth, Governor Greg Abbotts’ office and the PGA Tour, we felt that we were in a good place to move forward with this event in mid-June,” said Tothe.
Tothe noted that the event typically draws 120,000 spectators but this year fans were not permitted to attend. “Given that our priority is player safety, we felt this was the best option this year,” he added.
Event organizers also implemented protocols from a 37-page health and safety plan released by the PGA Tour in putting on the Charles Schwab Challenge.
They featured common practices such as deep cleaning and disinfecting procedures, the prepackaged meals in place of buffet-style meals and encouraging social distancing on and off-course.
The guidelines also included more specific duties: required questionnaire and daily temperature testing for players, caddies and other essential requirement personnel; limiting the number of people on the course; and having chartered a flight and encouraging non-local players with passengers occupying every other seat.
Athletes also underwent a RT-PCR nasal swab or saliva test before the tournament with results returned within 48 hours. Players and caddies traveling to the tournament on the PGA Tour’s chartered flight underwent a pre-travel test as well.
According to Mitch Whitten, executive vice president of marketing and strategy at Visit Fort Worth, both the Charles Schwab Challenge and IndyCar Genesys 300 were able to take place due to their locations being adaptable to socially distancing measures.
“Fort Worth is lucky to be home to two facilities that were able to amend regular play to uphold CDC recommendations for safety,” said Whitten.
Whitten also talked about the status of other entertainment and hospitality-related business conducted in Fort Worth. Beginning June 16, the city’s restaurants will be allowed to reopen at 75 percent capacity. Many of them will continue to offer delivery and curbside pickup.
The Fort Worth Zoo and Fort Worth Botanic Garden are among some of Fort Worth’s top attractions that have reopened with limited, timed tickets. Museums will remain closed as their administration is making preparations to implement new health and safety guidelines relating to visitation upon reopening. The Kimbell Art Museum will reopen on Saturday, June 20, and National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame will also do so but on Wednesday, June 24.
According to Whitten, most of Fort Worth’s hotels are open with new safety and sanitation procedures in place. He also noted that more than 120 businesses have committed to re-opening responsibly under a recently unveiled commitment program.
“As tourism moves forward, we are seeing travelers from areas within driving distance returning first, and we will continue to keep health and safety top-of-mind through this reopening process,” said Whitten.