PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan seems to have changed his stance on the controversial COVID vaccines. In an interview late last year, Monahan said he didn’t believe the Tour would force players to be vaccinated as it was a “personal choice.”
“I think vaccination is a choice, and I would apply the same logic and the same amount of care to that subject as we have to every other subject, and that is to try and do our best to educate our members on vaccination and the pros and cons associated with it,” said Monahan, during a conference call with reporters. “But ultimately it’s an individual decision.”
That is no longer the case.
Monahan now says, “We’re going to do everything we can to educate all of our players on the facts behind vaccinations.”
Spot the tweak?
The Tour spinmeisters have replaced “pro and cons” (choice) with “facts” (dictate) – the preferred term of today’s self-assigned COVID-19 experts.
In other words, there are no longer any downsides to being injected with the fast-tracked vaccine to fight off a flu-like virus that has a survival rate of somewhere around, oh, 100-percent for the demographic that is the PGA Tour golfer – young and healthy, who works much of the time outdoors in the sun.
Yet, according to a memo obtained by ESPN, players and caddies who do not vaccinate will be ostracized, essentially.
“As the COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more readily available, more individuals are being vaccinated,” the PGA Tour wrote in its memo.
“PGA Tour Health and Safety protocol requires individuals to continue testing onsite until 14 full days have passed since their second dose (Moderna & Pfizer) or 14 full days since their single dose (Johnson & Johnson).
“Once 14 days have passed, individuals are no longer required to take a COVID-19 test when considered ‘inside the bubble’ at PGA Tour, PGA Tour Champions or Korn Ferry Tour events.”
Currently, all members of a golfer’s team – player, caddie, trainer, agent, et al – are tested on site as part of the PGA Tour’s protocol. The testing is administered through a partnership with Sanford Health.
Moreover, players who did not enter the prior week’s tournament are required to take an in-home test before traveling to the host venue.
Additionally, the PGA Tour frequently offers charter flights between events, and players are once again required to take a test before departing.
This would all be “waived if a player is fully vaccinated,” according to ESPN’s Bob Harig.
Using an app called HealthyRoster, which was initially sold as a harmless tool to “facilitate health-related communications throughout the pandemic,” according to Golf Digest, PGA Tour officials will now be able to verify the vaccination status of every player, at any time, digitally.
Players who get jabbed with a vaccine will be granted freedom from the Tour’s burdensome COVID regulations and appear in the app’s database with a check mark next to their name, validating their compliance.
On the other hand, players who do not to vaccinate – a decision Monahan previously called, “a personal, individual choice” – and choose to guard against the virus through more traditional means of immune boosting, will be banned from accessing all PGA Tour properties / tournament venues – even outside on the course, or in practice areas, until they provide “their papers,” proving they are virus-free, at every “bubble” checkpoint.
These non-vaccinated players (which we are now betting will be about zero) will also forfeit the ease of mind that comes with no longer having to worry about test results – including false positives, and the potential loss of income – each and every week.
According to the memo, the new policy will also apply to PGA Tour personnel, volunteers, officials, and “anyone else at events who is required to be tested.”
The memo didn’t mention fans, but last month at the PLAYERS Championship, when asked about the scenario of mandating vaccines for spectators, Monahan did not shoot it down. In fact, he suggested vaccine mandates were not required, at this “point,” because fans were “responding to the opportunity to be vaccinated” on their own, and then – possibly, realizing he was in a bit of a verbal tailspin – trailed off into some corporate-speak babble about being a “great partner in the local marketplace,” among other Dilbert-like jargon.
“Could I envision a scenario? I think that hopefully we’re getting to a point sooner rather than later where that’s not a scenario we need to mandate,” said Monahan. “That’s the reality with the way people have responded to the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“I think that it’s hard for me to answer that question. I’m not the subject matter expert.
“We’ll always rely on CDC guidance, what’s going to be acceptable in the local marketplace, and we’re going to listen and be a great partner.
“If that’s the place we get to, it’s hard for me to predict that being a place that we’ll get to.”
The Tour’s memo was released before the FDA/CDC called for a pause in dispensing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after several young women died following a shot of the single-dose blend, among other stories involving serious life-altering reactions.