For the second year in a row the Covid-19 pandemic has cost Australian golf the chance to stage its flagship tournaments.
Ongoing outbreaks around the country have forced both the Australian Open and the PGA to be postponed until early 2022.
Neither of the events have been played since 2019 because of the pandemic after both were abandoned in 2020, the first time they weren’t staged since World War II.
Citing the need to ensure public safety and concerns over quarantine requirements, Golf Australia and the PGA Tour of Australasia were forced to abandon plans to play their events later this year in NSW and Queensland.
The PGA, scheduled for December 2-5 at Royal Queensland, has been pushed back to January 13-16, 2022, while the Open has moved from November 25-28 at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney to a date yet to be announced in late-January or February.
The constraints around overseas players attending the tournaments, and Australian players returning home, forced officials into the move.
“These decisions are not taken lightly when we are talking about our flagship tournaments that are playing opportunities for our members,” PGA of Australia chief executive Gavin Kirkman said.
“But as much as the number of Covid-19 cases is a big concern, it’s also the quarantine requirements that make it difficult to run golf tournaments. Not all countries require international visitors to quarantine – America for example – and that puts Australia at a disadvantage in an international sport.”
Golf is being played in NSW despite large Covid numbers but not in Victoria as it battles the latest outbreak.
Golf Australia boss James Sutherland said, in addition to quarantine issues, public health considerations were a primary driver for the deferment.
“Unfortunately, it is not a simple matter of the co-ordination of international players,” he said.
“The uncertainty of the quarantine requirements for any players coming from across state borders needed to be considered. But the public health considerations, including the uncertainty about lockdowns and living restrictions, make it very difficult to plan for an event with any certainty.”
Australian Open winner Adam Scott recently revealed it was unlikely he would come home this summer because of quarantine requirements.
Sutherland said the quarantine issue was likely to remain a barrier for the successful delivery of any national or international golf event at this time.
“Golfers are sole traders, they are not earning anything if they sit in quarantine for a fortnight,” he said.
“We’re not only talking about international players; most of the best Australian players also base themselves overseas during the year.
“Given all the uncertainty at the moment, we want to ensure the safest and best possible experience for the players and fans, and this gives us some time to create that.”