Golf caddies wonder how close is too close

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Missy Pederson is eager to get back to work on caddying for two-time winner Brittany Lincicome at L.P.G.A. Tour, which is due to resume its season in July, five months after it was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis. "I'm kicking," said Pederson in a telephone interview from her Minnesota home on Tuesday.

Pederson's enthusiasm, however, was tempered by the results she had just received. Despite taking what she thought were all the necessary precautions – going out alone to buy food herself and deliver food to others in her community while wearing a face covering – she tested positive for Covid-19.

"It certainly made me quit and really thought about how we want to go about this," said Pederson.

Pederson's diagnosis clarifies the challenges golf is facing. – especially the caddies, swing coaches and trainers whose jobs usually bring them close to player contact – as the sport jumps out of its pandemic-induced hibernation, how can caddies communicate effectively with their players over distances or club choices when they are at least two meters out stand together?

Pederson said she was the first person she knew tested positive for the virus. "That's why I'm so nervous when people are so sure it's definitely time to start again. play or be absolutely against it, "she said." You can't say with 100 percent certainty how you could catch it. "

On the same day Pederson received her diagnosis, the PGA Tour sent,Expecting a return in Texas in mid-June, a 37-page document describing an attack trajectory is hoped to be an example to other professional leagues heading out the gate. as they attempt to resume suspended seasons and begin delayed seasons.

to isolate the players in some kind of TV diorama with their caddies, a limited number of tour staff, club house staff, swing coaches and independent trainers on each tournament site. They will all have to submit to pre-event viral tests, daily health questionnaires and temperature checks, and adhere to the six-foot social distance guidelines. Tournaments are off limits to agents, managers, family members and spectators to reduce potential exposure to the virus.

Obviously, players and caddies are encouraged not to stray from the isolated environment of the tour, which includes a designated hotel and charter flights from one tournament city to the next. "This is an attempt to maximize the health and safety of all participants in the bubble," the plan said.

Despite the tour's best plans, the protective bubble can be the first time a player is unsure about the distance or breaking of a pit and requires a second pair of eyes.

"Your caddy will be the only person whose life will be very difficult to distance from," Dustin Johnson, former world No. 1, said in a conference call Thursday.

Another teleconference player Rickie Fowler joked that he will be holding a bat as a fencer's sword to keep his caddy, Joe Skovron, from going too fast. When talking about yardage or club choice, Fowler said there will be no more whispers. "We may have to talk a little bit more than usual to be able to talk more than a meter away," he said.

Matthew Wolff, the third player on the call, envisioned a scenario where no one gets between a player and his or her caddy.

"One thing I heard is that I think it is important to maybe stay with your caddies, or wherever you go, your caddies go too," said Wolff, "Because that way you would caddy, if you are safe and make sure you don't have it, follow the same rules as you, and if you both get it, I'm sorry. "

John Wood, who is caddies for nine-time tour winner Matt Kuchar, said he will consider wearing surgical or golf gloves on both hands as an extra precaution, but will likely avoid face cover unless necessary.

"I can't breathe there and my glasses are completely fogged up," Wood said one interview over the phone.

He added, "All I'm concerned about is a secondary outbreak."

Pederson shares Wood's concern. She decided to get tested for Covid-19 after developing some of the telltale symptoms, including loss of smell and taste. It took two weeks for her to receive her results.

"It's not something one of us should take lightly," Pederson said, adding, "It must be one of those things where there is an absolute, unshakable commitment to making sure everyone is safe."

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