Roger Sloan is accusing PGA Tour brass of hypocrisy.
“They abandoned the families and the wives on the PGA Tour and it has been, in my opinion, a huge embarrassment,” said Sloan, the 33-year-old golfer from Merritt whose season concluded on Sunday at the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina.
“There are a lot of players who are absolutely mind-blown that wives aren’t allowed to come out and watch their husbands play golf, yet 400, 500 or sometimes up to 1,000 volunteers are allowed to be on the golf course.”
Sloan and wife Casey are parents to two-year-old daughter Leighton and son Jude, who will turn one in November. The family resides in Houston, Tex., but travels together during the golf season.
The COVID-19 pandemic halted play in March. When action resumed in June, family members were not deemed essential personnel at PGA Tour tournament sites.
“It’s been a major adjustment because no families have been allowed on the golf course and they’ve shut down all the child-care facilities on the tour,” Sloan said. “There has been a lot of animosity going on with a lot of the players and players-relations personnel, trying to figure out what the right protocol is because they are so worried about the optics of it — ‘You can’t have wives walking around.’
“What’s funny is all of these players are spending eight-and-a-half hours sleeping right next to these wives.”
Sloan told a story that involved fellow tour pro Tom Hoge, who was in the field at the 3M Open in July in Blaine, Minn.
The tournament was among the first to allow a limited number of spectators, about 50 to 100 sponsor representatives, according to Sloan.
A group attending on behalf of one of Hoge’s sponsors, a presenting sponsor, offered one of its allotted VIP tickets to Hoge’s wife, but a rules official told the golfer his spouse was not welcome on the course.
“So it enrages a lot of players that a random person is allowed to be there, but a wife was specifically not allowed to be there,” Sloan said.
Minimizing testing costs likely had something to do with keeping families away, Sloan said.
“But you never really get a completely clear answer, other than it’s just the optics of it, having too many people out on the golf course that aren’t essential personnel,” he said.
Sloan said he learned the U.S. government allocated about 500 or 600 COVID-19 tests per week to the PGA Tour.
“[The PGA Tour is saying], ‘Well, we can’t have 100 wives or significant others or spouses or what not. We can’t use our tests on that,’” Sloan said, noting PGA Tour players have been tested weekly since play resumed in June.
“All of us players are sitting there, shaking our heads and going, ‘I’ll pay the $150.’ We’re not looking for a free test. We’re not even looking for our wives to be inside the clubhouse or using any of those amenities. They’re literally eating dinner with us, so why can’t they stand 50 yards away on the cart path and watch like they normally do?”
Joel Schuchmann, vice-president of communications for the PGA Tour, told KTW in an email safety and responsibility are the principles that guided the tour’s return-to-play plan.
Players, caddies, staff, television crews, limited media and a significantly reduced number of volunteers were deemed essential personnel after the restart.
“We were pleased to welcome back players’ wives/significant others two weeks ago, but note that there remains a number of locales where we play where county or state health departments prohibit non-essential personnel from being on site,” Schuchmann said in the email.
Sloan will begin his 2020-2021 campaign in September at the Safeway Open in California.
“What the PGA Tour did by getting us back as soon as they did, and in the form and fashion they did, was extremely impressive,” Sloan said. “What they’re doing for our game is great.
“But in my opinion, it’s been an embarrassment that they’ve abandoned the family aspect of the PGA Tour. The family dynamic is an intricate part of the image of the PGA Tour and they just literally abandoned it.”
For more on Sloan's year on the course, read the Wednesday edition of Kamloops This Week or go online to kamloopsthisweek.com on Tuesday evening.