This year’s Masters will have a different spot on the calendar, and a much different feel without patrons or guests walking the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club.
Tournament officials made the announcement Wednesday that the year’s final major would be played without galleries present. The decision confirms that all three of the 2020 majors will be played without fans and all but ensures that the calendar will turn to 2021 before the public can once again line the fairways and greens of a Tour event.
But of all the tournament venues, Augusta National might feature the biggest impact of crowds – and it could prove to be the biggest adjustment for players who will face an eerily quiet setting this fall in place of some of the biggest roars the game has to offer.
“I really can’t fathom it,” said 2007 Masters champ Zach Johnson. “It’s unfortunate. My peers, I don’t like to speak for them, but I guarantee you they’d say specifically Thursday through Sunday, we would love to have fans out there.”
Like Johnson, Webb Simpson has made regular Masters appearances over the last decade, but this year’s trip will be unlike any other. He told reporters at the Wyndham Championship that he was “saddened” to hear the decision from ANGC and viewed it as a “worst-case” scenario.
“I know they’re trying to juggle a lot of different things and trying to make the best decision, but I would say that’s the tournament where fans make the biggest difference,” Simpson said. “You know, you’re used to hearing roars all around the golf course. And as well-behaved and quiet as the fans are when you’re hitting, their cheers are loud. And we’re going to miss that this year.”
“I think it will be hugely different,” said Brandt Snedeker, who finished T-3 at the 2008 Masters. “Part of the allure, and kind of the majesty of Augusta National, is the patrons. You have that electricity from the first moment on Thursday morning to the last putt goes in 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.”