The 2020 Ryder Cup, a biennial international men’s golf competition that dates to the 1920s, was postponed until next year on Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic. The P.G.A. of America, which conducts the team event contested between players from the United States and Europe, said the competition, scheduled for Sept. 25 to 27, would instead be held on Sept. 21 to Sept. 26, 2021, at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc., which was slated to host this year’s competition.
“Unlike other major sporting events that are played in existing stadiums, we had to make a decision now about building facilities to host the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits,” Seth Waugh, the P.G.A. of America’s chief executive, said. “It became clear that as of today, our medical experts and the public authorities in Wisconsin could not give us certainty that conducting an event responsibly with thousands of spectators in September would be possible.”
The event, which alternates between sites in the United States and Europe, is famed for its boisterous, partisan crowds that create a raucous atmosphere distinctive in golf. With spectators being prohibited from golf tournaments around the world this summer, the prospect of a Ryder Cup without fans had moved virtually the entire golf community to call for the event to be delayed a year.
Postponing this year’s Ryder Cup will have a domino effect on golf’s schedule of international competitions with the Presidents Cup, golf matches between golfers from the United States and a team of players representing the rest of the world minus Europe, moving to the fall of 2022. The 2022 Ryder Cup scheduled for Rome, will be held instead in 2023.
Before Wednesday’s announcement, many of the world’s top players emphatically encouraged the P.G.A. of America to postpone the event, with some insisting that they might boycott the competition if it were held without fans.
“The majority of players would like to see it pushed back until 2021 so that they can play in front of crowds and have the atmosphere that makes the Ryder Cup so special,” Rory McIlroy, the world’s top ranked golfer, said in May.
A month later, Brooks Koepka, ranked sixth in the world and the winner of four major championships, was more insistent.
“I don’t want to play if there’s no fans,’’ Koepka said, “The fans make that event. The fans make that special.”
Asked if he might decline to play for the American team if the event was held without spectators, Koepka answered: “Probably.”
There is also a significant commercial aspect to the hosting of the Ryder Cup, with tens of thousands of tickets sold at premium prices and the golf course grounds dotted with mammoth corporate hospitality tents. Those conditions could possibly be replicated in 2021, although that is far from a certainty.
While disappointed by the postponement, Steve Stricker, the U.S. Ryder Cup captain, said he felt the new timetable afforded an opportunity in 2021, “to showcase the event as it was meant to be seen.”
It is the second time the Ryder Cup has been postponed this century. In 2001, when the attacks on the World Trade Center occurred two weeks before the competition was to be held in England, the event was postponed until 2002.