FARGO — If eight weeks of no PGA Tour golf seems like eight years to Tom Hoge, a phrase he said earlier this week, then Amy Olson’s layoff may seem like a lifetime. The LPGA Tour has been idle since February.
The cancellation of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in mid-July on Friday leaves the Marathon Classic from July 23-26 as the next scheduled LPGA event. The tour last teed it up on the final day of the Australian Open on Feb. 16, a tournament in which Olson had a career-best second place solo finish.
“I had just gotten there, hitting my stride when the COVID happened,” she said. “So that was disheartening and frustrating; to put all the work in and I got one tournament out of it. But everyone is in the same boat.”
Olson got back into a competitive boat of sorts earlier this week as part of the Bell Bank Presents Play It Forward golf challenge with Hoge, Matt Cullen and Josh Duhamel. The best-ball made-for-TV match will be aired Sunday, May 31, from 6-9 p.m. Central Time on WDAY-TV and state-wide ABC stations.
Olson was sharp, rarely missing a fairway off the tee and consistently hitting approach shots for birdie opportunities. If there was any rust in her game, it wasn’t evident at the Fargo Country Club.
Like Hoge will have to do when the PGA Tour resumes in June, Olson will have to get used to playing LPGA tourneys with limited people on the course because of social distance regulations.
“Essentially it will be you and the other players,” she said. “It’s going to be different. It’s going to be tough if you’re in contention to just have that feel -- usually you have that energy of the crowd to pull from. But we want to play and people will be watching on TV and cheering so we’ll make the best of it. It will be different but it’s the new normal.”
Cancellations and postponements will make the fall the go time for Olson. Three of the five majors -- The Evian Championship, Women’s British Open and ANA Inspiration -- are scheduled between Aug. 6 and Sept. 10. The U.S. Women’s Open was rescheduled for Dec. 10-13 in Houston, which could present its own challenges, Olson said, in the form of enough daylight hours.
The tournament is using two golf courses to fit 156 players into one day.
“I don’t know, I’m thinking a brown golf course,” she said with a laugh. “The daylight thing will be interesting. We’ll play two different golf courses which will make for extra work on the front end but we want to play and we want to give every person an opportunity to play.”
It will be extra work in terms of preparation. Players normally use Monday through Wednesday to play practice rounds and scope the fairways and greens of the course. Prepping for two courses means 36 holes of work.
There was no prep needed for the Fargo Country Club this week, a course she’s played many times. The four played for charity with Bell Bank, Forum Communications Company, Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops, Eide Bailly LLP and Dakota Medical Foundation combining to match gifts up to $100,000 at www.dmfhelpinghearts.org. The website is taking donations through the May 31 telecast.
Although good-natured, there was an element of competitiveness, too.
“I miss competition,” Olson said. “It’s a little hard when you’re not in form and generally when you’re put under the gun you’ve had a lot of practice. Hitting mid-season shots with off-season hands is a little tricky but it was really fun. I love the competitive juices, I love coming down 17 and 18 having a chance to make this putt. That’s what you play for.”