Ryder Cup exploring a spectator-less event, says PGA of America CEO

April 20, 2020
Whistling Straits Golf Course To Host 2020 Ryder Cup

Gary Kellner

The Ryder Cup is exploring a spectator-less event, according to PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh.

Talking on Sunday to New York's WFAN, Waugh said while "it’s hard to imagine one without fans" and that "the fans are the Ryder Cup, to a certain degree" he acknowledged his organization is discussing that prospect for the biennial match, set to visit Wisconsin in late September.

"We have begun to talk about whether you could create some virtual fan experience, and we’re going to try to be as creative as we can," Waugh told WFAN. "It’s [still] to be determined, frankly, whether you could hold it without fans or not.”

Last Thursday the PGA Tour announced that fans would be barred from the first four events when its season restarts in June. And Waugh made similar comments regarding the PGA Championship, saying the event could be held without fans or may be moved from San Francisco to another site.

Still, those events, Waugh argued, are not quite the same when it comes to crowds.

“All of them are better with fans,” he said, “and I’m not suggesting it doesn’t change the experience, but in the Ryder Cup it’s particularly important. We’ll be very careful about that. It’s a very unique thing.”

The Ryder Cup is of critical financial importance to both the PGA of America and European Tour, and postponing the event until 2021 could have major implications on both institutions. Moreover, the Euro Tour remains without a return date, its tournaments canceled and postponed through July. Last Friday Commissioner Keith Pelley warned things could be radically different when the tour does come back.

The 2020 Ryder Cup is scheduled to begin Sept. 25 at Whistling Straits in Haven, Wis. The Europeans are the defending champs.