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'Bear Trap' roar will sound different at 2021 Honda Classic

Socially distanced crowds will make for unique experience for fans, golfers
Posted at 11:01 AM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 11:19:53-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — "The Bear Trap" and its overflowing, boisterous crowds is a symbol of the Honda Classic. As the golfers navigate PGA National, it's a memorable part of their round.

"Don't worry. The players will be nervous," said golfer Padraig Harrington, who won the Honda Classic in 2015.

Ken Kennerly, executive director of the Honda Classic, said the pandemic has offered a shift, with the tournament fans at about 20% capacity in 2021 because of COVID-19 safety efforts.

"I think there will be less noise in the Bear Trap for sure," Kennerly said.

Harrington said golfers don't want it too quiet.

"You want the nice, ambient noise," he said. "I think there will be enough people to create that. You know, quiet is not good. Quiet is tough."

Padraig Harrington holds 2015 Honda Classic trophy
Padraig Harrington poses for photographers after winning the Honda Classic golf tournament on the second playoff hole against Daniel Berger, Monday, March 2, 2015, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Fans will be socially distanced into three sections and will be required to wear masks.

"Instead of 6,000 fans in the total Bear Trap per day, we'll have three zones with limited capacity anywhere from 350 to 450 people in each of those zones," Kennerly explained.

Kennerly also noted the golfer's play is likely to get more attention on the course without as many distractions within a rowdy crowd.

"I think there will probably be more fans actually following the golf this year in the Goslings Bear Trap, perhaps, than in years past," Kennerly said.

Adam Scott, who won in 2016, said it's a fun tournament and the crowd is part of that thrill.

Rickie Fowler on 17th green during Honda Classic Pro-Am event at 'Bear Trap' in February 2020
Rickie Fowler walks on the 17th green during the Pro-Am of the Honda Classic golf tournament, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. PGA National's signature test is a three-hole span on the back called "The Bear Trap," named for Jack Nicklaus and touted as one of the most demanding stretches in all of golf.

"It's nice that we're going to have some fans back out there and hopefully help me celebrate the good shots and not have to help me overcome too many bad ones," he said.

Kennerly believes golfers will still feel the roar of the crowd's excitement.

"They're going to feel the energy when they come through the Bear Trap," Kennerly said. "You know, when they leave 16 green and they walk onto 17 tee, they're going to feel it and they're going to hear it."

Find complete coverage of the Honda Classic through WPTV NewsChannel 5, which will carry play live on Saturday and Sunday.