DUBLIN, Ohio — In a typical year, the Bogey Inn would be preparing to party this week. While PGA Tour golfers ply their trade at nearby Muirfield Village Golf Club, site of the Memorial Tournament, the sports bar would welcome an overflow crowd of fans to enjoy a live band on its expansive patio outfitted with a disco ball.
Mark Dombek, the restaurant’s general manager, said that in past years as many as 30,000 guests passed through its doors during tournament week. He was braced for a quieter scene this year as the event, a hallmark of central Ohio summers, will be played this weekend without fans because of concerns over the rise in coronavirus infections.
“We’ll probably only do 30 percent of what we might normally do this year,” Dombek said. “It’s going to be a massive hit for us.”
The tournament will again draw marquee golfers to the course designed by the Ohio native Jack Nicklaus and reconfigured to his specifications yearly to flummox top players. Daniel Sullivan, the tournament’s executive director, said that in normal years the Memorial generated $35 million to $40 million for the local economy, according to the most recent economic study from 10 years ago.
This summer, area hotels have seen a sharp downturn for what is usually their biggest revenue generator of the year. One nearby hotel estimated that it was only at 60 percent occupancy.
In June, Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio approved a plan for the event to host a limited number of fans — around 8,000 daily — but the PGA Tour scuttled it as infection rates climbed. Sullivan’s team had developed a task force to address the issue of fans and prepared for months to host back-to-back tournaments on the PGA Tour for the first time since 1957.
The reversal forced a logistical pivot at Muirfield, which also served as the site of last week’s Workday Charity Open. “We had every goal and intention of having fans,” Sullivan said. “Disappointing, no doubt, but completely out of everyone’s control.”
The Memorial staff had intended to use radio frequency identification technology in the badges distributed to fans, moving attendees through a system of so-called corrals where they could watch the action while a “patron ambassador” monitored the number of people walking into the space using the technology.
Anticipating that large crowds would try to follow Tiger Woods, who is returning from a five-month tour hiatus for the event, Sullivan said they were to have “a patron ambassador walking around with a paddle that said, ‘Be smart. Stand apart,” when Woods, a 15-time major champion, came near.
Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, called the plan “as thorough as it could possibly be,” but said Wednesday that he ultimately decided to proceed without fans after looking at the rate of cases and getting input from players.
Woods acknowledged in his news conference on Tuesday that playing was a risk. “I know the tour has done a fantastic job of setting up the safety and trying to ensure that all of us are protected and are safe,” he said. “But it is a risk that we are now undertaking when we walk on the property and are around individuals that you don’t know where they’ve been or what they’ve been doing.”
For players who have experienced unprecedented changes to the PGA Tour calendar, adapted to new social distancing protocols at events and worried as peers and caddies tested positive for the coronavirus, the reversal on having fans at the Memorial has been just another adjustment in an unusual season.
Jon Rahm, the No. 2-ranked golfer in the world, said last week that coming to Ohio felt like a reprieve after the uptick of cases in Arizona, where he lives. Rahm was among the tour golfers who remained in Ohio after playing the tournament last weekend at Muirfield, where Collin Morikawa defeated the No. 3-ranked Justin Thomas in a playoff.
The Coronavirus Outbreak ›
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated July 15, 2020
Is the coronavirus airborne?
- The coronavirus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in stagnant air, infecting people as they inhale, mounting scientific evidence suggests. This risk is highest in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, and may help explain super-spreading events reported in meatpacking plants, churches and restaurants. It’s unclear how often the virus is spread via these tiny droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, said Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech. Aerosols are released even when a person without symptoms exhales, talks or sings, according to Dr. Marr and more than 200 other experts, who have outlined the evidence in an open letter to the World Health Organization.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
What’s the best material for a mask?
Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?
- A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?
- The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.
What is pandemic paid leave?
- The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
- So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
- Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
How does blood type influence coronavirus?
- A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
How can I protect myself while flying?
- If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
What should I do if I feel sick?
The Workday provided a riveting Sunday, but no one expects Muirfield to play as friendly as it did last weekend, when the average round was a 72. The main challenge for this weekend, according to the course superintendent, Chad Mark, was ensuring the integrity of the course week-to-week. “One of my biggest worries was for our staff to let any of our egos get in the way of letting the course be any less than what we would do for the Memorial,” he said.
The tour was clear that greens would run faster this week and, with a major course renovation planned for after the Memorial ends, Mark said he was hoping his team could push for more challenging speed and firmness.
“We’re going to be comfortable doing that because we don’t have to turn the course back over to the members,” Mark said.
Outside the club’s gates, the atmosphere around Dublin is significantly subdued. The Workday, fanless and stifling hot the first two days, took place in monastic silence. But Dombek, the restaurant manager, and his owner are still going to try to throw the best party possible.
The first of three oversize screens arrived at the Bogey Inn last Thursday, and the restaurant will use its large patio to bring in more tables to accommodate the golf fans who may still show up.
For the past five years, Paul Sorvold, a sales manager for a lighting manufacturer, has been bringing clients to the Bogey to celebrate tournament week, but he acknowledged that this weekend “no one is flying into Dublin if they can’t get into the tournament.”
Still, he plans to spend Friday night at the restaurant with his wife and some friends. “Our local businesses need us now more than ever,” he said.