Golf fans roll with new COVID-19 protocols

Safety is top of mind for Sanford International organizers and spectators

Fans stand behind rope lines as John Daly swings near a sign for the 2020 Sanford International golf tournament sign.

Cool, fall-like temperatures with spotty showers didn’t stop fans from enjoying the first round of the 2020 Sanford International on Friday.

The tournament at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, marks a new beginning for the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic as the first official sanctioned event to invite fans this season.

For months, sporting events all over the world were forced to postpone, cancel or go on without fans. So spectators were thankful for the opportunity to attend a PGA Tour event close to home.

Related: COVID-19 preparedness allows for fans at golf tournament

“This is going to be awesome,” tournament guest Gunnar Barbee said.

As organizers worked tirelessly to prepare the tournament with proper safety measures, this year’s event was anything but normal.

Fans feel safe

“We brought masks because we weren’t sure if they were required,” another tournament guest, Matt Cain said. “(Volunteers) took temperatures before we got on the bus, scanned us as we got to the gate and it seems like a very good process.”

Some fans were here to see their favorite players in person, while others were here to socialize and enjoy a large-scale event — something they haven’t done for awhile.

“We haven’t had the chance to experience large events. Just small ones on a personal level, we’ve been able to enjoy friends and family safely,” Cain said. “So, this is great.”

This is the type of tournament, year after year, to attract golf fans and non-fans alike.

“Getting outside and enjoying some professional sporting event. It’s going to be a part of it and see how it goes. Hopefully the weather gets better,” tournament guest Trent Bruce said. “Hoping for a little sunshine tomorrow and through the weekend.”

Pandemic protocols are top of mind

While fans can’t control Mother Nature, they can control their own actions. In addition to umbrellas, many of them were seen carrying their own hand wipes, sanitizer and face masks, a sign safety is more important than ever.

“I feel relatively safe so I’m not too worried about it,” tournament guest Sam Schipper said.

Organizers of the tournament feel that way, too. Safety measures include:

  • Temperature checks at bus pick-up locations including the Great Plains Zoo and Empire Mall
  • Temperature scans at the entrance to the tournament
  • Hand-washing and sanitizer stations
  • More prepackaged foods
  • Signage to encourage social distancing in lines, proper hand hygiene
  • Bleachers, rather than individual seats, to encourage proper spacing in the stands

“This tournament is great for our community. It brings in some big names, good money and lets us experience this first-hand,” Barbee said.

See the full schedule of the Sanford International online or download the app.

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Posted In Coronavirus, Golf, Innovations, Sanford International

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