The Augusta National Golf Club announced on Wednesday that the 2020 Masters tournament, which has been postponed from its traditional April date to November 12-15. , will be held without any patrons or guests present. The decision was in response to the coronavirus pandemic and came after many other matches of the men's professional golf schedule, including the P.G.A. Championship, the first major championship of this unconventional year, was previously held without spectators.
The decision of the Masters – the last of the major men's tournaments to say it would go ahead without fans – could indicate that the remaining tournaments will follow this season. The United States Golf Association announced two weeks ago that the United States Open, held September 17-20 at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, will have no fans. And the British Open was canceled earlier this year.
The PGA Tour said its events will not be receiving fans until the end of this current season, which ends September 7. The first two events of the next PGA Tour season, the Safeway Open and Sanderson Farms Championship, have also announced that they will not have fans on site during their September and October dates.
"Throughout this process, we have consulted with health officials and a variety of subject matter experts," said Fred Ridley, Augusta National president. "Ultimately, we determined that the potential risks of Welcoming customers and guests to our site in November are simply too big to overcome. ”
Patrons is the preferred term for a club due to many traditions that set it apart from other men's golf tournaments. Clifford Roberts, a co-founder of the club and its president from 1931 to 1976, prioritized the so-called patron experience from when the Masters Tournament was first held in 1934. Many of the first concerns for spectators, such as the minute attention to sightlines, affordable concession prices and on-track scoreboards still persist at the Masters.
"Even in the current circumstances In fact, it is very disappointing to host the Masters without clients, ”added Ridley. “The guests who come to Augusta from all over the world every spring are an important part of making the tournament so special. However, Augusta National has a responsibility to understand and accept the challenges associated with this virus and to take the necessary precautions to conduct all aspects of the Tournament in a safe manner.
Few other golf tournaments are widely known to describe the presence of the fans, but the "Augusta roars" – the thunderous public response echoed on the course – is perhaps just the same. well synonymous with the Masters as the blooming azaleas. Peter Kostis, who aired the tournament with CBS for decades, wondered if the club would break with tradition and change the course, which is usually set up to reactions from the public are provoked.
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During this week's Wyndham Championship, golfer Brandt Snedeker, who has achieved three top 10 results in 11 Masters starts, described how spectators enjoyed the tournament's famous atmosphere be poles.
“Part of the allure and majesty of Augusta National is its patrons. You have that electricity from the first moment on Thursday morning to the last putt that comes in at every hole on Sunday night, ”he said. “It's not just on the back nine; it's on every hole.”
Augusta National also canceled the Augusta National Women's Amateur and this year's Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship, two events held every year around Masters week.
The club clarified that tickets to the 2020 tournament would be honored for the 2021 event scheduled for next April. The ticket sales process for the 2021 tournament was even though started and the club said it would communicate directly with ticket holders and applicants for next year's tournament.
The club did not disclose who would specifically be excluded from the tournament definition of "patrons and guests" and are allowed on site during the tournament week The field for the 2020 Masters was already finalized and closed the week before the original date in April.