Though the golf tournament was canceled in 2020, the Valero Texas Open is set to open in late March to both tournament players and spectators.
In its 99th year, the PGA Tour event, which takes place at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa and is sponsored by Valero Energy, plans to welcome up to 5,000 spectators a day, Valero Texas Open Executive Director Larson Segerdahl told county commissioners earlier this week. Commissioners approved a mass gathering permit for the event on Tuesday.
Masks will be required for everyone on site except while eating or drinking, Segerdahl said. Each person will have at least 36 square feet to themselves for social distancing purposes. Hospitality areas have also been restructured to host smaller, private gatherings in open-air settings.
“We have worked very closely with not only the PGA Tour and their health and safety experts, but also Valero’s medical, health, and safety team,” Segerdahl said. “The PGA Tour is the nation’s leading golf tour. They have been conducting events successfully since June of last year. They began reintroducing fans to their PGA Tour events this past November and have done so successfully with health and safety protocols implemented that we will also institute at our event.”
The Valero Texas Open runs from March 29 to April 4 and will feature 144 players. Spectators can attend April 1-4, said Ted Kneale, Valero Texas Open’s director of operations. Tournament organizers are also looking for 1,000 volunteers to help run the event, Segerdahl said. The 5,000 spectators allowed on-site each day is only a “fraction” of what the event usually sees in non-pandemic years, he added, though he did not provide the crowd size in past years.
Event workers will provide hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, and face shields to attendees, and regularly sanitize high-contact areas, Segerdahl said. Bathrooms will be staffed with attendants who sanitize them after each use.
Bexar County Fire Marshal Chris Lopez said his department was satisfied with the safety precautions that the Valero Texas Open team included in their plans.
“We looked through this, we agreed with everything that they have brought before the fire marshal’s office for their mass gathering permit,” Lopez said at Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting. “Everything at this point is spot on.”
If there is a rise in COVID-19 cases locally, the tournament itself won’t be canceled outright, Segerdahl told commissioners.
“Due to the schedule of the PGA Tour, we won’t be in a position to delay the event,” he said. “The only measure that we would be able to take would be to ratchet back the attendance on site. So in a worst-case scenario, if things were to spike and we’re forced to ratchet back our attendance, the event would go on in a spectator-less fashion.”
Champions fore Charity, the tournament’s fundraising program, has been able to raise more than $3.2 million since October, Segerdahl added.
“We hope to continue that over the course of the next month and through the event,” he said. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being a leader in charitable fundraising on the PGA Tour and we hope that this year will be no exception.”
Tickets for the tournament go on sale Monday.
Disclosure: Valero Energy is a financial supporter of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.