In a sport filled with majors supplying meaningful nostalgia to golfers everywhere, few ring louder than the Masters. First, the sporting world was put on hiatus and the Masters was postponed. Now, sports are back, and the PGA hopes to make it up with a fall version of its biggest tournament. When the Masters takes Augusta in November, things will look quite different, but some hope it could make it more memorable.
The history of the Masters
The Masters debuted in 1934. Since its inaugural tournament, golfers from Tiger Woods to Arnold Palmer have seen success on its beautiful greens. At the time, the competition was the brainchild of the legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones and investor Clifford Roberts. Jones always wanted to be bigger than golf and fulfill his dream as a course builder; Roberts wanted to make money.
The pair laid down the groundwork for Augusta National Golf Club, which soon became synonymous with the Masters. The first Masters was meant to bring publicity to the golf course. But with every passing year, it became more critical to the sport.
The one-off publicity stunt became an annual staple and one of the most coveted majors in golf. Since then, the only Aprils without the Masters were during World War 2. Typically, that event has taken place in April, but with unprecedented times, unprecedented measures will mean that Augusta National will hold our eyes in fall, instead.
The fall Masters
More than any other sport, golf requires a lot of environmental upkeep. Moving an event six months forward means the seasonal green grass could take on a yellow form. In reality, it will be more akin to how it regularly looks in the fall. After all, it’s closer to the opening of the seasonal golf club, which typically hosts the tournament near the end of the season.
Furthermore, the weather could be a concern. April means that there could be summer sunshine or rain, reasons Insider, but fall can be even more unpredictable. In the weeks leading up to winter, the Masters will likely require an even closer eye with potential outliers. Without fans, the golfers will likely have some say in how this can happen.
The most significant change, however, will have to do with the tournament itself. Typically taking place at the beginning of the year, the new event will be the season finale. This is jarring for some golfers, but many appear to be intrigued by the upcoming challenge.
What do golfers say?
Golf can have an almost painstaking adherence to tradition. Some might think such a group would oppose change. However, while several golfers have acknowledged the challenge ahead, they view it as a positive, given everything going on in the world. Former Masters champion Trevor Immelman doesn’t see it as a problem.
“I’ve played there a lot in October and November,” Immelman told ESPN. “The temperature is not all that different. There could be more rain that time of year. The temperature can be very, very nice. From an aesthetic value, the flowers would be different colors, not like the springtime. But fall has colors that are breathtaking in their own right.”
Rory McIlroy, who played some of the best golf in his career before the pandemic, is excited about the change.
“I think it will be a different feel, it’s at the back end of the year. Two of the majors have already been played, hopefully the Ryder Cup’s already been played. People will be in their routine and the flow a little bit more.
“I always feel there’s this bit of anticipation going into Augusta, the first big event of the year. There’s all this hype. I don’t think it will feel like that this year, it will feel different, but it’s something I’m looking forward to.
“It’s going to be a different Masters this year, but personally, maybe selfishly, that’s what I need to get the jacket.”
When the Masters tees off in November, it will be another unprecedented time in sports. However, when the tees are set, and the grass is mowed, it will be just the type of unprecedented move that brings comfort and stability to the golf fans, golfers, and everyone else interested in its comeback.