Michelle Wie West returns to the LPGA this week for the first time in nearly two years, but it will be a quiet affair. There will be no spectators at the 2021 Kia Classic in Carlsbad, California, due to strict local guidelines. Players aren’t even allowed to bring one guest onsite.
Likewise, there will be no fans at the ANA Inspiration, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Players are allowed one guest for the year’s first major, and dining out at restaurants is still prohibited.
While a number of PGA Tour events have welcomed a limited number of fans for several months now, it will likely be some time before the LPGA brings fans back to any U.S.-based events, especially with three of the next four events on the LPGA schedule to be played in California and one in Hawaii.
The tour hopes to have a limited number of spectators at the Pure Silk Championship at Kingsmill in late May but, as a tour official noted, it will be with guidance from the local health authorities.
The LPGA is moving forward with plans to compete in Singapore and Thailand in late April and early May under strict health and safety guidelines for players. The LPGA created a similar bubble last August when the tour spent two weeks in Scotland.
After Kingsmill, the LPGA returns to the West Coast for the new match-play event in Las Vegas followed by the U.S. Women’s Open at The Olympic Club. A decision has not yet been made on fans at the USWO but on Tuesday, San Francisco moved into the less-restrictive orange tier.
“It is important to have fans attend the U.S. Women’s Open,” said USWO championship director Matt Sawicki in a statement provided to Golfweek, “but health and safety protocols for all attendees remains our first priority. We are working closely with the City and County of San Francisco as well as the State of California to create the best environment possible.
Earlier this week, R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers released an open letter to fans about this year’s AIG Women’s British Open at Carnoustie. Last year’s AIG Women’s British Open at Royal Troon was the only major sporting event held in Scotland over the summer. While the event at Royal Troon was a rousing success, it did not include fans.
“We are greatly encouraged that we will be able to welcome fans at the AIG Women’s Open,” Slumbers wrote, “and I would like to assure you that we are working with the Scottish and UK governments, our health and safety advisers, agencies and our partners at AIG to progress our plans to ensure that everyone can enjoy the action at Carnoustie safely.”