GREENSBORO – David Boyer’s house just to the right of the 10th fairway is a great spot during the Wyndham Championship. This week the Boyers will get bonus views because fans won't be allowed onto the grounds of Sedgefield Country Club.
“We will see a lot more,” Boyer said, “but we also know we can’t venture far from our back yards.”
Residents of the quaint neighborhood surrounding the Donald Ross layout will be "quarantined" to their back yards for tournament week. It’s really an odd occurrence, but in the year 2020 nothing is odd.
Wyndham Championship officials sent a cordial letter to residents asking them to stay behind the ropes that will border most of the course. The ongoing pandemic led to the PGA Tour not allowing fans at any of their tournaments since the season restarted in June.
Boyer, a member at Sedgefield Country Club for 20 years, has lived in his house just to the right of No. 10 for four years. He’s usually a standard bearer during tournament weeks, volunteering his time for morning rounds on Thursday and Friday morning.
But without fans, those volunteer opportunities are not there, so he’ll be content to watch play from his yard.
“We had 250 people here last year,” Boyer said. “This year we will have whatever they will allow us, which is 25 or so.”
In Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase Two guidelines, which have been extended to Sept. 11, large gatherings are limited to 25 people.
The build-up around the tournament has far fewer structures with no hospitality tents, no Margaritaville, and certainly no bleachers.
“The green was 100 percent blocked from our yard because of University Row they had set up, but that’s not here this year,” Boyer said. “We can see a lot more from our property with the approach shots and then when they are putting.”
With no fans allowed there would seem to be the need for less security, but that isn’t the case.
Mike Ebel of the Wyndham Championship executive committee is in charge of all security for the week. From sheriff’s officers to Greensboro Police officers and Show Pros, a company that helps run big-ticket events, Ebel coordinates what needs to be handled. Ebel says the same number of law enforcement officers, about 60 each day, will be on site, teaming with Greensboro Sports Council volunteers to help make sure neighbors don't decide to follow golfers.
“You want to be nice and kindly say to those people that they need to stay in their yard and be respectful of the players and the tournament,” Ebel said. “This is the PGA Tour’s playground this week so the players, caddies, tour officials and a few reporters are the only ones allowed on the grounds. We are committed to keeping everybody safe.”
A law enforcement presence on the neighborhood perimeter will allow only cars with proper passes. In past years, home owners could get extra parking passes, but not this year.
“We’ve limited the parking to four (passes) per house,” tournament director Mark Brazil said. “And that’s something we may continue to do moving forward because we really didn’t have a number before and gave out a lot of extra parking passes. What I’ve learned is other PGA Tour stops do the same thing when they have a neighborhood going through a course.”
Various points throughout the course have been fenced to block views from busy roads.
“We don’t want folks standing in the roads because that’s a safety issue,” Brazil said, adding that tournament officials also don't want to wall off everything, either.
In addition to masks and social distancing, Brazil and the tournament are charged with keeping golfers safe.
“We’re not going to be afraid to call in the law,” Brazil said. “We can’t have some idiot running across a fairway and getting close to a player or something like that happen. We’ve double-roped some things off near a few spots where yards are close to the course, and as soon as the practice rounds start its priority one to keep these players safe.”
Brazil estimated that this year’s field of 156 golfers might be the second-best in the last several years, rivaling the 2015 edition with 10th-place finisher Tiger Woods. Seventeen of the world's top 50 are in this week's field.
And residents of the neighborhood will try to get their glimpses from their back yards.
“This year we are basically telling our friends, if you can get here, you can spread out and watch from our yard,” Boyer said. “But there aren’t a lot of parking passes like in years past, so I don’t think we’ll see a lot of people other than those who live in the neighborhood.”
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