WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The fairways at the Wichita Open will be short of fans this year, but numerous precautions are in place to protect players, caddies, and staff.
“It’s a whole new world for everybody,” said Roy Turner, tournament director for the Wichita Open.
Without those fans, organizers said the tournament will be impacted in many ways.
“It really is kind of a downer,” said Tom Hearn, rules official. “Especially when you come to Wichita, fans come out in droves and to not have that as part of the atmosphere, it does kind of take away from the feeling of the event.”
But, for more than 166 golfers and caddies, the games will go on.
“The players have to be tested before they come into town, when they get to town,” said Turner. “They’re basically living in a little bubble. They’re all in the same hotel and we have to stay 6 feet away from them even though we’ve been tested.”
Those test results will come back in less than three hours and players will have a list of guidelines while they’re in Wichita including having to stay in the same hotel.
“We’re keeping this bubble so to speak safe,” said Hearn.
We’ve asked them not to go to the bars, not to go to restaurants, get carry out food and try to stay COVID-free.”
Another big impact for the tournament is money. With hundreds of thousands of people not allowed to be on the course, profit from the Wichita open will take a big hit.
“We’ve been able to put together a reserve,” said Turner. “We will go through that very easily. Our income this year will be down 70%. In spite of our losses, we’re still going to be able to give over 100 thousand to local children’s charities.”
With the changes, the organizers said their focus is the kids, while continuing to help boost golfer’s careers.
“It still feels so good to do it,” said Turner. “We are lucky to be able to have a golf tournament and what we hope, raise funds for those kids.”
Turner said Wichita Police officers will be on site throughout the tournament to keep spectators out and to enforce the mask mandate. Those who do not cooperate will be escorted off the property.
The Wichita Open events kick off on Monday, Sept. 21 and the games start Thursday, Sept. 24 at Crestview Country Club in Wichita.
To hear play by play coverage of the events, click here or listen to 98.7 FM or KFH 1330 AM on the radio.
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