A Return to Normal (Finally): Light COVID Restrictions at Just the Right Time for the WM Phoenix Open

Photo Credit: azcentral.com

One of the greatest Arizona’s traditions descended upon us this past weekend: the WM Phoenix Open. The raucous event, known as the “People’s Open”, has long been known as the most raucous tour stop in golf, a party that attracts incredible thrones who are there to drink, eat, mingle, and perhaps take in a bit of golf…perhaps. And after a difficult several years of pandemic, this year’s event seemed to be at full tilt. Few restrictions, few masks, little social distancing, and certainly no vaccine cards being checked.

There’s a good chance that, either by good fortune or good planning, that this was the absolutely perfect time to do so, and as such, a launch for a true “return to normal”. As the Open Chairman Michael Golding says, “we have no restrictions”. And for an event as well known for revelry as the WM Phoenix Open, another year of muted celebration would have seemed like a defeat of sorts.

APG can verify that the 16th hole was absolutely packed, that the sponsored areas within the covered structures were teeming with networking, beverages, and fun. Walkways between holes were bustling, few truly sparse areas could be found, and for those that have been to the Open before…it actually seemed normal.

And what wasn’t normal yet absolutely fantastic: Sam Ryder’s hole in one on the 16th hole. Absolute bedlam. Absolutely amazing. We are so fortunate to see this at full capacity instead of empty stands.

A year ago, fears about a “super-spreader” event would have made the rounds on social media. However in 2022, concerns about the newest variant have likely been unfounded, as Omicron has had significantly fewer negative impacts than its predecessors. Also, the timing is nearly perfect, and the Omicron wave has nearly entirely passed. The variant has made the rounds, and a golf tournament, as hectically wacky as this one always is, likely wouldn’t get in the way of natural immunity.

There’s a very good chance that the WM Phoenix Open may have unwittingly been the official inflection point at which we’re truly returning to normal in Arizona. It may have been great planning, or it may have been truly lucky, perhaps both. Regardless, the timing was perfect, and we all needed it. Kudos to a great tournament, and here’s to hoping that this spring will allow for more celebration without negative biological implications.