The European Tour has set a date for a return to action, scheduling its first six tournaments, all within the United Kingdom and all without fans.
“There is no doubt that we’re back,” said Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, in a teleconference on Thursday.
The tour will start with the Betfred British Masters July 22-25 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and wind up its opening stretch at the UK Championship at The Belfry, Sutton Cold, England. Each of the first six events has a purse of one million Euros.
Two of those stops conflict with significant tournaments in the United States, the World Golf Championship FedEx St. Jude Invitational, July 30-Aug. 2, and the PGA Championship, Aug. 6-9.
In addition, the European Tour has rescheduled its Rolex Series events with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open now going Oct. 8-11, and the BMW PGA Championship a week later on Oct. 15-18.
The Nedbank Golf Challenge, hosted by Gary Player in Sun City, South Africa, and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, will be held Dec. 3-6 and Dec. 10-13 respectively. The latter event is where the 2020 Race to Dubai Champion will be crowned.
While those stops have been firmed up, events in September through to November were not released by the tour and, according to a release, “will be announced in due course, with a variety of scheduling options currently under consideration as the global situation continues to evolve.”
“Without question we have had to think differently about the remainder of our 2020 season which is reflected in today’s announcement,” said Pelley. “As golf’s global Tour, diversity is ordinarily one of our biggest strengths, but in this instance, it has become one of our biggest challenges.”
In past years, the tour has travelled through such countries as Morocco, China, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal and Spain, but with the coronavirus protocols in place, crossing borders is difficult if not entirely impossible.
As well, players arriving from outside the U.K. would need to quarantine for 14 days, meaning top Euro tour golfers playing in the United States would likely not compete unless that quarantine is lifted, something the tour believes might happen.
“We wouldn't be announcing these events without having had significant dialogue with the UK government,” Pelley said. “They know about the announcements. They're worked feverishly with us.”
All the tour’s stops will be governed by a health strategy built around creating a safe environment and using a theme of “Golf for Good.” That will focus on supporting the communities where the European Tour plays, paying tribute to the frontline workers and promoting the health benefits of golf. Donations will be made to charities throughout the first six-week swing.
The tour also announced that the status of all players will carry over through the end of 2021 and that there will be no qualifying school or graduation from the Challenge Tour.