May 26, 2021
Over the weekend the American video viewing public and the golf world saw Phil Mickelson win the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina.
Yes, this event will be remembered for the nearly 51-year-old Mickelson on becoming the oldest pro golfer to win a major. It was his 6th major title.
Yes, he will be remembered for the longevity of his game for playing over nearly 4 decades in the pro/semi-pro ranks. Much will be written about his relevance then and now.
However, what may be remembered most on this May 23, 2021 date, is the fawning crowds of spectators who engulfed the 18th fairway and green approach at Kiawah. Mickelson was surrounded by fans as he walked towards the green. On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the PGA officially apologized to Mickelson and his playing partner Brooks Koepka for the lack of crowd control.
Perhaps the nearly maskless golf crowd can be forgiven for their exuberance in this instance for sporting crowds of this nature and fervor have been missing on the “world” stage since March 2020. The COVID pandemic reduced crowd sizes and its spontaneity since then.
Yes, sports continued to find a means for playing on courts, fields, in the roads, in the stadiums, on golf courses, in the pools, and tracks across the world. But somehow the Mickelson win seems to have both encapsulate the frustrations and relief the pandemic presented to the sporting world these last 15 months.
Observing interstate electronic signage provided from the State of South Carolina back in March 2020 the state seemed, by the messaging, not to want anyone transiting the state, via the I-95 corridor, to feel anything but unwelcomed. Move along. IMHO, if they could have turned off the northbound billboard lights on the South of the Border ads (Pedro is only a few miles ahead) they would have. Forgive, because it was scary times for all.
Things changed for the better by March 2021 as observed when heading south and stopping for the night in NC a few miles north of Pedro’s. The evening news was full of instate and cross-state broadcasts urging age relevant residents to be vaccinated as reporters stood nearby just opened vaccination sites. Messaging was positive.
Fast forward to May and the PGA Championship on Kiawah where state and PGA officials allowed 10,000 spectators a day to walk the fairways of this 4-day event.
So, it is with the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines that allowed vaccinated (and unvaccinated, too) fans to participate in this annual sporting event. Even the CDC helped the week before by relaxing the national guidelines that pertain to mask wearing in public.
In a way it reminded me of the old General Electric catch phrase/ad “GE, we bring good things to life.”
Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching. The Tokyo Olympics is upon us and physically not that far away. Summertime is here.
The United States has more than 131 million people (39% fully) vaccinated and over 357 million doses have been distributed (49% with at least 1 dose). The world still reels from this pandemic and will need help to reach these same heights.
Caution and vaccination perseverance will help return both sporting events and the restaurant industry to move us past this next pandemic stage. Winter approaches with its home-bound travel and pending flu season. Hopefully, the percentages vaccinated will climb more by then. The fat lady has not sung yet.
Surviving restaurants and sports bars are the staples for which this MatchLidProject was created. They will implement lessons learned from the pandemic era. This time may become a renaissance for this industry. Only time and patrons will tell of that return to glory story.
What became obvious from the thousands of fervent fans who engulfed the 18th green at Kiawah was could you find any visible outwardly signs of national unrest or division? People came there to celebrate what is a pro sport / golf historic moment. One of which years from now those in attendance can say they were there.
Sports unite us. It keeps us sane for at least the moment. It helps reduce distractions, lets us cheer together, support our teams, and ultimately lets us honor a champion, be them long in the tooth or young at heart.
Mickelson provided all including a staying power to endure.
We need to do the same as we bring good things to life.