LONDON: The European Tour is warning its players that everything from prize money to player services will be different when golf resumes because of the COVID-19 pandemic that will have a “profound” financial impact, according to a British newspaper.
The Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday it has obtained a memo from chief executive Keith Pelley to members that outlines the sobering effect of the coronavirus that has shut down golf in Europe since early March.
Eight tournaments have been postponed. Five others, including the British Open, have been canceled. The next event still on the schedule is the BMW International Open in Germany from June 25-28.
Pelley said the pandemic has stopped the tour's momentum in tournaments and prize money and will require it to reassess how it goes forward.
“You should therefore be prepared that when we do resume playing, the schedule and the infrastructure of tournaments could look radically different from what you have been used to,” the memo said. “Many of the things you have become accustomed to, such as top-class players’ lounges or courtesy car services will most likely assume a different appearance, if indeed they are present at all.”
Chief among the changes will be prize money.
“The reality is, the pandemic is going to have a profound impact on the tour financially, as well as many of our partners, both in sponsorship and broadcast areas,” he said.
The European Tour started the year with a schedule of 46 events held in 31 countries, which includes the four majors and four World Golf Championships.
Pelley was not part of the group that tried to reconfigure a golf schedule to salvage what it could of the season. The Masters has been postponed until Nov. 12-15, the same date as the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa, one of Europe's premier Rolex Series events.
The US Open has moved to Sept. 17-20, the same week as the KLM Open in the Netherlands.
Rolex Series events have a $7 million purse, an amount that goes up as its Race to Dubai concludes with three events in November.
The Telegraph reported that Pelley and key members of his staff have taken salary cuts, and that some staff at headquarters south of London has been furloughed.
To salvage the season, Pelley suggested in the memo that when golf resumes, there could be multiple tournaments in the same location, two tournaments in the same week or as many as four tournaments in consecutive weeks in the UK, preceded by a 14-day period that would allow players from other countries to self-isolate in advance if that health requirement is still in play.
Pelley said the Rolex Series and UK events are a priority for the tour and broadcaster Sky Sports, and that it will “play behind closed doors if necessary.”
Four European Tour members are among the top 10 in the world ranking — Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Tommy Fleetwood — though all are joint PGA Tour members and all but Fleetwood live in the US.