Julie Tyson lives in New York. She’s heard the sounds of fear and she’s heard the sounds of hope. From the sirens that choke the streets to the impromptu balcony applause sessions so many residents have offered each evening to those heroic first responders, Tyson understands as deeply as anyone what this pandemic is doing to our nation, and most specifically to our cities.
So yes, the joy is tempered.
But it is there nonetheless, rooted in the hope that better days lie ahead.
The Northern Trust PGA event is still scheduled to come to TPC Boston, albeit one week later than originally planned, and Tyson, the executive director of the FedEx Cup playoff event, is channeling her best optimism and hope that by Aug. 17, when it’s set to begin, our world will have regained some sense of the normalcy we are all craving. Is it best-case-scenario thinking? Of course it is. But for now, we’ll take it, understanding full well that all of this could change in an instant.
“I think the one thing I want to be clear of, while we’re talking about this exciting future and hopeful future, is that there are a lot of fans and communities going through a lot, first responders, families, everyone,” Tyson said in a phone conversation Monday.
“I don’t want to be tone deaf to that. I’m a New Yorker, I live in the city. I am very attuned to the fact and the things we are dealing with in the very immediate day. We’re neighbors and we care about all of the suffering going on.
"I want to balance the announcement and excitement with the thoughts for all the people dealing with loss, so that this future could be a reality someday.”
Like baseball, golf is one of those sports intimately connected with its season, and the spring skies are brightening, the warmer weather approaching. This very week should have been the kickoff to the major season, with defending Masters champion Tiger Woods at the forefront of every golf conversation.
The collective pause is vital to our future well-being. But that doesn’t take away the lamentations for what we are missing, nor does it preclude dreaming of their return. Area golf fans have been looking forward to the Northern Trust’s return after the one-year hiatus necessitated by sharing its FedEx Cup rotation with Liberty National Golf Course in New Jersey.
“Going back from the early days, Boston fans show up, and I’ve said that long before the full pandemic,” Tyson said. “They’ve been so, so supportive of us in every way. The players love the event, the crowds are among the most energetic in the best way, and it produces some of the best finishes in tour history.
"We’re excited about our return, and it’s at a place the commissioner [Boston native Jay Monahan] spent a fair amount of time and was one of the great minds in building.”
As our heads fill with visions of better days, the ones that will get us from here to there remain uncertain. The PGA will continue to monitor the recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. Everyone knows circumstances might necessitate more change. But for now, there is no cancellation of the Northern Trust on the table (“I don’t have any indication that that right now is in anybody’s mind,” Tyson said), with professional golf hoping to get back in action at some time in June.
“We’ve been talking about the various schedule changes and a lot of contingency planning since Day One,” Tyson said. “We’ve got an entire set of modes spaced out; should there be additional changes, we can adjust and adapt quickly.
"August sounds like a good time. The American public is going to be ready to get back out. Of course we are going to monitor information. It’s a domino effect. When one event changes, it impacts the rest. This is the very best, most optimal scenario.
“I think there’s just so much that remains to be seen. What we’re planning for is the very best possible event we can produce. We’ll learn a lot more in the coming weeks based on what the president and health organizations are saying, and assuming everyone is safe and we get the all-clear, I think people will be ready to get out there and have something positive to celebrate as a community.
“We suffer alongside our fans. This affects everyone. We’ve got them at the forefront of our minds. We are committed to coming out with our very best experience and product in August. Sports has always been something in times of difficulty used as something in terms of healing, and we look forward to being that.”