The 2020 Masters, pushed to Nov. 12-15 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will be held this fall without patrons or guests allowed on the grounds, Augusta National Golf Club announced Wednesday.
"Since our initial announcement to postpone the 2020 Masters, we have remained committed to a rescheduled Tournament in November while continually examining how best to host a global sporting event amid this pandemic," said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley. "As we have considered the issues facing us, the health and safety of everyone associated with the Masters always has been our first and most important priority.
"Throughout this process, we have consulted with health officials and a variety of subject matter experts. Ultimately, we determined that the potential risks of welcoming patrons and guests to our grounds in November are simply too significant to overcome."
The Masters was previously scheduled to be played April 9-12 before COVID-19 upended the entire professional golf schedule from the beginning of March to the beginning of June. This November's Masters will be the third major of the year and the third in a seven-major stretch that will span just 11 months. That got kicked off last week at the 2020 PGA Championship. Strangely, the Masters will play back-to-back majors as the 2021 edition is the first major of the year and slated for April 8-11.
"Even in the current circumstances, staging the Masters without patrons is deeply disappointing," added Ridley. "The guests who come to Augusta each spring from around the world are a key component to making the tournament so special. Augusta National has the responsibility, however, to understand and accept the challenges associated with this virus and take the necessary precautions to conduct all aspects of the Tournament in a safe manner. We look forward to the day when we can welcome all of our patrons back, hopefully in April 2021."
Those with 2020 Masters tickets will receive the same tickets for the 2021 Masters and there are even some rumblings of merchandise -- traditionally only available in-person -- being put online for this year's event.
An empty Augusta National Golf Club is one of the eeriest and best experiences in the world. While not having patrons in November is not what anybody wants, the PGA Championship showed recently that a major can take place (and thrive) without any fans. This year's Masters will no doubt be strange, but it will also be surreal and at times, incredible. The best in the world playing the best course in the world in a silent arena void of any noise or emotion from those watching. It will be, just as it always is, unlike anything we have ever seen.