So, what is a professional golfer to do while the tour is shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic?
For David Hearn, his main task these days is keeping his kids occupied.
“I’m trying to stop them from constantly tackling each other and keeping them occupied,” he said with a chuckle of his three kids, aged seven, five and three. And while many are binging on Netflix or Crave, Hearn has become an avid viewer of the Disney Jr., and Nick Jr., channels, two broadcast services aimed at the younger set.
While a lot of parents may be reaching the overload point with the schools closed, Hearn said that if there is a bright spot to what’s happening in the world, it’s that he’s at home enjoying family time, something that’s rare for people in his job.
“We travel so much that it’s nice to get the opportunity to spend some extended time at home with my wife and kids,” said Hearn, who has made 12 starts this year and averaged 26 events over each of his last nine seasons. “I’m really, really enjoying it.”
For now, golf is on hold at all levels. The PGA Tour has cancelled or postponed tournaments until mid-May, and the course where Hearn plays and practices at in Florida is closed. He has no idea when he’ll return to playing. At this point, he’s not even swinging a club in his garage to stay sharp.
“Right now, I’m just watching a lot of guys give tips on Twitter,” he joked of the plethora of instruction being offered up by many of his PGA Tour brethren.
While he is definitely missing the opportunity to make a living on the course, he pointed out that there are others being more severely impacted through golf’s shutdown. The PGA Tour raises millions for charity every week and that comes through a lot of hard work from volunteers.
“I really feel for the sponsors and charity organizations that work all year for one week to raise money,” Hearn said. “When you take a step back and look at things, that’s where it really hits home. That’s who is really impacted. The money they raise is really important to their work.”
The 40-year-old Brantford, Ont., product has been busy with some official business as a member of the tour’s Player Advisory Council. The group of player representatives advises and consults with the tour’s policy board and commissioner Jay Monahan on issues affecting the organization. There’s been no shortage of those in recent days.
It’s been active in getting information on how the tour is managing its operations through this difficult period. The members would normally be in contact quarterly, but these days it’s been weekly or bi-weekly as they try to build contingency plans.
“There are just so many questions right now,” said Hearn. “Everyone is really at a loss as to what to do.”
One of the questions being asked by players and fans these days is how the FedEx Cup point system will work when play resumes. So far, 11 tournaments have either been cancelled or postponed. Some of the postponements might be moved until after the traditional end of the season.
In a regular year, the top 125 players retain full privileges for the following season and qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs. Hearn is currently 134th in the standings.
He knows that one week can change everything. With fewer opportunities available will there be an adjustment to the allocation of points? Or will there be a rollover with a two-year season?
Those are all questions for another day. For now, it’s family time, and Hearn is taking full advantage of it.