New Sunshine Tour commissioner Thomas Abt has highlighted the extreme logistical measures the organisers have implemented in creating a safe environment for the European Tour, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
The first of three co-sanctioned events by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour, known as the Summer Swing, will tee off at Randpark Golf Club on Thursday when the Joburg Open returns after three years.
Given the severe health guidelines set by countries all across the world, the European Tour’s diverse schedule means the safest-possible environment for its players had to be prepared.
Given that coronavirus still disrupts the everyday life of South Africans, the Sunshine Tour implemented a lot of detail in setting up the expected players bio-bubble.
‘We are mitigating the risk or reducing the risk of players interacting with anybody else,’ Abt told Compleat Golfer.
‘The plan might not be 100% flawless but it’s reducing the risk of infection to our local players because the people coming from Europe are all potentially more exposed.
‘So, that’s why we are doing all we can to protect our players. It is not being enforced upon us – we want to protect our players.’
Bio-secure bubbles have become the new norm for sports teams and players to travel to and reside in, restricting their interacting with the public and potentially spreading the virus.
Since golf’s restart on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour a few months ago, these bubbles have been the basis of hosting each and every competition, especially on the European Tour where players competed in a different country almost every two to three weeks.
‘We’ve created bio-bubbles at all three events with the European Tour, according to their health-risk mitigation protocol, as well as what our government protocols are, in relation to what GolfRSA presented to our national health ministry.
‘Players are going inside the bio-bubble or the inner bubble where they have to come into the events by displaying their PCR tests, they display their Health Docs where they screen themselves for ten days prior to the event and then they are allowed to go into the inner bubble,’ added Abt.
Once these players are cleared for the bubble, they stay in the Tour’s designated hotels for each event and are not allowed to leave except to play golf.
The Fairway Hotel Spa and Golf Resort at Randpark and City Lodges in the area, partners of the Sunshine Tour, have this week been placed under the Tour’s complete control where only the players and their caddies may enter.
The same applies for the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which is hosted at Leopard Creek next week and the SA Open at Sun City the week after.
This is also the main idea behind spectators being refused entry to the events in order to reduce interaction and possible spreading of the virus.
‘With the bio-bubble being a designated area, we have to take over the entire hotel, which we have done across all our ways. At Sun City, we are taking over the entire Cabanas hotel and half of the Cascades hotel and when players arrive they need to register at a separate area with a separate entrance and use separate areas to relax and separate restaurants to eat at,’ concluded Abt.