Jeff Roth, former San Juan Country Club head pro, glad for 6th PGA Championship appearance
FARMINGTON — COVID-19 hasn’t stopped professional golfer Jeff Roth from hitting the greens, especially because he had peace of mind that safety protocols would be in place.
Roth, who served as the head pro at San Juan Country Club from 2010 to 2017, made his sixth PGA Championship appearance last week at Harding Park in San Francisco. And despite missing the final cut by eight strokes, shooting a combined 149 after two rounds, Roth was glad the tournament wasn’t called off.
“The PGA Tour events have gone on without really any issues,” Roth said, adding most positive test results he’s aware of came from caddies. “I don’t think there was any worry of getting COVID... There were layers and layers of safety precautions put into place.”
Roth said he, other players and media members covering the tournament stayed in a hotel that served as an isolation “bubble.”
Roth said he was fine with it because he was mindful of others’ well-being during the tournament.
Before entering Harding Park for the PGA Championship, Roth said everyone had to fill out a form and pass a temperature check.
Roth also said the locker room area required face masks, and lockers were 10 feet apart.
“I wear a mask when I’m asked to wear a mask, and I don’t try to bend the rules at all,” Roth said.
When it came to playing golf, Roth said he felt safe because of the vast, open spaces featured at the course itself.
Roth, 62, was among the top 20 club professionals who qualified for the PGA Championship. He was also the seventh-oldest player at the event.
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Roth said he’s played and taught golf practically every day since mid-March, adamant it can be done safely in these trying times.
And now he’s planning for the next tournament he will partake in: the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, which Roth said will take place sometime between late May and early July of 2021.
“I don’t think you’ll see the PGA Tour go away,” Roth said. “The PGA Tour will be just fine. There are enough golf fans out there. … It’s easier to bring spectators back into professional golf than professional football or basketball.”
Roth still resides in Farmington from Oct. 1 to mid-April, doing his offseason training at Piñon Hills Golf Course, Kirtland’s Riverview Golf Course and Conquistador Golf Course in Cortez, Colorado.
“If there was one thing that’s ignited the popularity of golf, it’s been this virus,” he said, adding the business component of the game is faring well. “Golf is one of those sports you can play socially distanced. … It’s a wonderful gift to do what we do.”
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.