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3M Open To Go Spectator-Free Due To COVID-19

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- July will be a bittersweet month for Minnesota golf fans.

The 3M Open will take place July 23-26 at TPC in Blaine. But on Monday it was announced that the tournament will happen with no spectators.

Tournament director Mike Welch said the decision was not made lightly.

"We've been weighing a number of scenarios. At one point it was seven scenarios," Welch. said.

He said they'll move forward with a "no spectator scenario" after holding out hope for limited spectators.

"I think you'll find to a person that this is the safest way to conduct a PGA tournament. And that's what we are going to do," Welch said.

Typically for a tournament like this, they would have 2,000 people helping out. But due to COVID-19 guidelines and no spectators, this year they will only have about 300 to 350 volunteers.

Players and caddies will undergo a COVID-19 test each day. Volunteers and others not playing will be away from the players, and will have their temperatures checked throughout the tournament.

Last year, the 3M Open raised $1.5 million for local charities. Even while being hampered by a pandemic, they are hoping to keep that going.

"And we are going to be able to do that and support a number of COVID-related charities, as well as other charities starting to rebuild in the Twin Cities over the last three weeks," Welch said.

Pro-Am play will help keep the charity drive on course, but local businesses will miss out, according to Blaine community development director Erik Thorvig.

"Really the tournament brings in people from all over the world so that's an opportunity we will miss this year," Thorvig said.

He said the 3M Open has a $50-million economic impact on the region. They can't count on that this year, and hotels and restaurants will be most affected, but the city feels lucky the tournament is happening at all.

"With the amount of coverage on Golf Channel and CBS, it's still an opportunity to showcase the people all over the world," Thorvig said. "For us it wasn't unexpected it would be without spectators, but we are still very grateful the tournament is happening."

Tournament organizers said they are hoping to release a list of charities they will be helping over the next couple days. Anyone who bought tickets through Ticketmaster should receive a full refund within the next 30 days.

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