Golfers rejoiced when the PGA Tour announced yesterday that play would continue, but without galleries. No fans, no problem — TV coverage is enough. We have The Players, Valspar Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Corales Puntacana Championship, Valero Texas Open and the big daddy of em’ all — The Masters. But today, in one clean swoop — all were taken from us.
The soothing keys of Dave Loggins’ “Augusta” will not serenade the transition to Butler Cabin with Jim Nantz and Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley. There won’t be scenes of bursting Azaleas and not a single trip down Magnolia Lane. If there’s an upside to all this then it’s the cancellation of Tiger’s Champions Dinner menu. Green jacket champions won’t be subjected to Woods’ awful, confusing and bipolar sushi and fajitas menu. And there’s one more benefit — it’s open tee sheets at three golf courses anyone can play where PGA Tour events were supposed to happen.
Unlike Austin Country Club and Augusta National — anyone can play at Innisbrook, home of the Valspar Championship; the Corales Course at Puntacana, home of the Corales Championship and the TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks, home of the Valero Texas Open. These golf courses are in pristine condition — they’re PGA Tour-ready. The 90-day rule has been in effect since January, rounds of play reduced and maintenance crews have worked overtime.
We spoke with the folks at Sawgrass and even though The Players was cancelled three days ahead of schedule — the Stadium Course and Dye’s Valley Course are closed until Tuesday, March 17 as previously scheduled.
The Valspar Championship, played at Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course near Tampa was scheduled to happen March 19 -22, it’s not. Everything is ready — grandstands are up, concessions are ready and leader boards are situated throughout, but there won’t be galleries to see if Paul Casey can win a third straight Valspar.
This problem presents an interesting chance for casual players to experience a full-on PGA Tour golf course. Innisbrook is offering a special “Tournament Package” starting at $199 per person and a portion of rate will be donated to local charities supported by the tournament.
The Tournament Package includes:
- Overnight accommodations
- One round of golf on Copperhead
- Second round, same-day play on one of Innisbrook’s other three golf courses at only $35 per player
- Unlimited use of practice facilities
- Tee time booked at time of reservation
- $10 merchandise certificate
- Club storage and locker room service
The package rate is per golfer, per night, and based on double occupancy. Resort fee is also included. Applicable taxes apply. Offer valid March 13 – 24, 2020, visit innisbrookgolfresort.com.
The same goes for the Corales Championship in Dominican Republic March 26 – 29. The golf course could not be in better shape than it is — it’s flawless, but Graeme McDowell won’t be returning to defend his 2019 title. Packages are available and green fees start at $150, visit puntacana.com.
The setup for the Valero Texas Open happens sooner than most PGA Tour stops. The TPC San Antonio AT&T Oaks Course also hosts The Dash to the VTO 5K charity run on Saturday ahead of the tournament. And at the time the bad news came crashing down, TPC San Antonio was about 90-percent into their preparation.
In lieu of a PGA Tour event, the tee sheet is open and the Lone Star Stay and Play is $335 plus tax per person and includes:
- One night accommodations at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
- One round of golf on either the AT&T Oaks Course or AT&T Canyons Course
- Complimentary use of practice facility prior to play
- Bag transfer and storage
Rate is based on arrivals between January 23 – March 31, 2020, Sunday-Thursday. Blackout dates apply. Price subject to change. Rate per person, based on double occupancy, visit tpc.com/sanantonio/vacations.
The PGA Tour is tentatively scheduled to return with The RBC Heritage at Harbour Town on April 16. And while it’s hard to find light during this crisis, there are a few unique golf experiences out there. Who knows? Like the PGA Tour, perhaps leisure play is on the chopping block too.