In a new year, COVID-19 still disrupting the amateur calendar
With 2020 behind us, the hope for a return to normalcy is fresh, with COVID-19 vaccines emerging and an end to the pandemic in sight.
In the world of amateur golf, the 2021 schedule reflects that hope, with a full slate of international, national and state championships on tap. After seeing its championships reduced in number from 14 to four in 2020, with all qualifying cancelled, the USGA recently announced that the full qualifying and championship schedule would return in 2021.
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The college golf season has resumed, with schools who sat out the fall season back in action in what will be a sprint to the NCAA Championships later in the spring.
Early on in the pandemic, golf proved itself as a sport that can be played safely, if health and safety protocols are followed. But COVID is still proving to be too much for some tournament directors, and the amateur golf calendar is still seeing significant disruption as the new year gets underway.
Today the Sage Valley Junior Invitational became the latest major event to announce cancellation due to COVID-19.
“While we’re disappointed to cancel the Junior Invitational, it’s imperative that we prioritize the health of all participants, families, golf course staff and others needed to stage a world-class event like this,” said Pete Davis, chairman of the SVJI Sports Foundation. “The Foundation Board, the Tournament Committee, and the Club at Sage Valley examined every possible alternative, and we ultimately determined it was not feasible to host the tournament this year due to the ongoing issues with COVID-19, new travel restrictions and unknowns surrounding the vaccine rollout.”
This announcement follows the cancellation of the Latin American Amateur Championship, which was to be played two weeks ago in Peru, as well as the cancellation of the Jones/Doherty Women's Amateur two weeks ago in Coral Ridge, Fla.
Several other major international events have been affected. The South American Amateur Championship, usually played in January, has yet to announce its next dates of competition. The Mexican Women's Amateur, as well as the men's and women's Portuguese International Amateur championships, have been postponed.
In Australia, tournaments are being played, but restrictions on international and interstate travel have shrunk the fields in tournaments like the Master of the Amateurs and New South Wales Amateur.
Back in the U.S., the Morrison Cup, an emerging national senior points event held in March at Pauma Valley in Southern California, recently announced its cancellation.
On Monday, the San Francisco City Championship -- surely the largest in the country with almost 700 players already registered over seven divisions -- decided to postpone until October and November. (San Francisco just lifted strict golf restrictions, requiring no more than two players per group, last week.)
So while 2021 still looks promising for amateur golf, there are still some bumps in the road.