With the sports calendar put on indefinite hold, the Augusta National Golf Club announced last week the Masters would be postponed, not canceled, like many other PGA Tour events. Now rumors are swirling that golf’s crown jewel might be rescheduled for October.
The Masters, an April tradition
Originally scheduled for April 9-12, the Masters has been held in April for 81 of the tournament’s 83 years including last year when Tiger Woods brought home his fifth green jacket. The two other times, it took place in March.
The event has been played consecutively in April dating all the way back to 1946 when the Masters returned from a three-year break due to World War II.
Holding the annual event in April has allowed the Augusta National Golf Club an opportunity to showcase the natural beauty found at the course with its azaleas and dogwoods. The course features tens of thousands of flowers and plants, with the 13th hole alone containing more than a thousand azaleas.
Clues of an October event
Online detectives have been trying to solve the mystery since last week’s announcement, and there have been several hints in recent days indicating October could be the new date.
Multiple individuals have posted screenshots of their canceled hotel reservations previously scheduled for early October. There are additional reports of people who had booked rooms and were alerted their reservations had been randomly canceled. LPGA Tour pro Marina Alex posted on Twitter that she’d been kicked out of her Augusta room.
In addition to the random cancellations, the rates for many of the Augusta-area hotel rooms have skyrocketed overnight. According to Golf.com, if you wanted to book a room at the SpringHill Suites in Augusta, Ga., for next week, you could get a room at $103 per night.
If you try booking that same room for any night in October 2020, the new rate is a jarring $895 per night. The Residence Inn’s nightly rate jumps from $139 to $999. Ecco Suites from $79 to $650. The Knights Inn goes from $49 to $449.
All signs point to the Masters for that period. In a town of 200,000 that doubles in size that week with people who stay in hotels specially constructed to satisfy the demand for that period, there is no other good explanation for the price hike.
Why an October Masters makes sense
Postponing the tournament to the summer months isn’t a viable option because the club closes during that time. Plus, the world’s best players dealing with the heat and humidity of a Georgia summer would create less-than-ideal playing conditions. That type of test is reserved for the U.S. Open.
Some have speculated that September might be a good time to host the event. However, the typical rye overseed you see for an April Masters that generates the saturating green would not be likely at that time. The Bermuda fairways would have a very different look.
Delaying the Masters until October allows the club a chance to present the event as close to how it appears each April. Another benefit, it provides the club with sufficient time to turn around and prepare for the next Masters in April 2021.
A Masters in October is better than no Masters at all, even without the azaleas and dogwoods.