The most important word in yesterday’s announcement that The Masters won’t go ahead as planned next month?
Whilst other events, such as THE PLAYERS Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, have been cancelled for the year, the Green Jackets of the Augusta National Golf Club still intend to stage The Masters at some point this year. Coronavirus permitting, of course.
That raises the obvious question of when that might be.
The earliest possible date would appear to be some time in May. That, though, poses a number of issues. For one, it would throw The Masters into direct competition with the US PGA Championship, which, as things stand, is scheduled to take place at TPC Harding Park from May 14-17.
It’s also not certain that the health risks posed by coronavirus will have subsided by that time, and that’s to say nothing of the significant logistical problems posed by re-organising one of the world’s most-profile sporting events at such short notice.
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As we move into June and July, another issue comes into focus – the weather. The temperatures in Georgia during this time of year are, typically, oppressively hot. It’s not unusual for temperatures to float consistently above 35˚C, with high humidity making the conditions truly uncomfortable. The tropical storms, that move in from the Gulf of Mexico during spring, usually extend to midsummer, bringing with them frequent thunderstorms and heavy rainfall.
Besides anything else, the hot summer weather wreaks havoc with the delicate, precise agronomy of the course.
In other words, a summer Masters is, in all probability, a ‘no no’.
Suddenly, we’re looking at September. As things stand, the final event of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour season is the TOUR Championship, which is currently scheduled for August 27-30 in nearby Atlanta. With 30 of the world’s best players already in the state for that tournament, there’s an argument for staging The Masters the following week when there’s no other event on the schedule.
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That would mean the tournament not counting towards the 2019-20 PGA Tour schedule and, by extension, likely counting twice towards the 2020-21 season (assuming the April 2021 Masters goes ahead as expected)?
Lest we forget, the Ryder Cup is also scheduled to take place from September 25-27 (at least for now).
So, what about October? That might just be the best option of all. The PGA Tour has yet to release its 2020-21 schedule but, assuming it follows the same pattern as this year, that would mean one of four events likely making way The Masters: the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, the Houston Open, the CJ Cup or the Zozo Championship. Not without some challenges but by no means impossible.
In these uncertain times, it’s really anybody guess when The Masters will next played.
But it will return. And it will be surely be one of the most keenly-anticipated tournaments in the history of the game.