Le Triomphe Country Club in Broussard. Now, in normal times--a Louisiana Open Week--- there'd be a grandstand behind the 18th green; there’s none to be found this year. However, even with a pandemic; even with no fans being allowed to come to this year's tourney, professional golf is back.
"I get emotional when I say it,” says a teary-eyed Danny Jones, “because last year was tough."
In fact, Jones says the winner of the 2020 tournament--- the one that didn't happen---was Covid-19.
“Actually, we were shut down March 12th, three days before we were supposed to start, so that was a tough pill to swallow."
And being an entity that has donated $5.1 million to local charities since 1992, the prospect of no tournament had Jones worried about the nonprofits who volunteer and then benefit from dollars raised by the open.
“Last year, we were able to partner with our title sponsor, the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, to ensure that those charities who come out here and do a specific task-- that even though we were cancelled-- they'd be able to get their 100% funding they would get from the tournament.”
Changes this year? Well, there will be no spectators allowed at Le Triomphe; logistically, the state's very recent move to Phase Three was just a bit too late for the tournament.
“In order to be able to have fans, there was a lot of protocols that needed to be followed, plans put in place, plans to be approved through the PGA tour, the State of Louisiana and locally,” Jones explains.
So, they decided to play it safe for this year and cross their fingers for 2022. Plus, Covid-19 is still out there; even with only essential personnel and 144 golfers on-site, there is the tourney and the pro-ams at the beginning of the week. That means 750 people will need to be tested between Saturday and Wednesday.
"That's every player, every caddy, every pro-am participant, some volunteers, some tournament staff, PGA tour operators. It’s provided overwhelming challenges, and that part has not been fun.”
Still, there will be a 2021 Chitimacha Louisiana Open. That means Professional golf in Acadiana. That also means, charitable contributions, which is what the Open is really all about.
“There's a lot of people who put their hearts and souls into this,” adds Jones, “and I'm not ashamed about getting emotional about it, because this tournament means a lot to me personally, and to this community. So, to have PGA Tour golf and have the Korn-Ferry Tour return to Lafayette. It's not ideal, but we're still doing what our mission is."
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