Amen Corner will be quiet this fall.
Augusta National Golf Club announced Wednesday that this year’s Masters will be played without patrons in attendance because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The decision comes exactly three months before the rescheduled Masters is set to be played, Nov. 12-15.
“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 Masters 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.
“Even in the current circumstances, staging the Masters without patrons is deeply disappointing. 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.”
Augusta National’s decision increases the likelihood that every tournament the rest of the year will be played without spectators. That’s been the case since the PGA Tour restarted in mid-June. Last week’s PGA Championship was held sans spectators, and the USGA has already said that next month’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot will only have essential personnel on-site.
Roughly 50,000 patrons a day roam the grounds during tournament week of the Masters, and the roars that echo through the pines are as synonymous with the tournament as azaleas and pimento cheese.
“I think it will be hugely different,” Brandt Snedeker said ahead of this week’s Wyndham Championship. “Part of the allure and majesty of Augusta National is the patrons. You have that electricity from the first moment on Thursday morning to the last putt goes in on Sunday night on every hole. It’s not just on the back nine; it’s on every hole. So to not have that there is going to be a different feeling. … We’ll see how it all pans out, but I think everybody will agree it will not be the same without having patrons there.”
Augusta National hadn’t publicly discussed its plans since early April, when Ridley said “future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials.” Last week, Augusta mayor Hardie Davis predicted the Masters would “likely” be played without spectators, but suggested Augusta National Golf Club also had the resources and “wherewithal to test all patrons who showed up at the course.”
The field for the Masters is already set at 96 players. Any winners of summer PGA Tour events, as well as high finishers in the PGA Championship and U.S. Open, would qualify for the 2021 Masters in its traditional April date.
Augusta National said all 2020 ticket holders will be guaranteed the same tickets for the 2021 Masters.