The 2020 Masters will be played starting Thursday. With 96 players in the field, Augusta National is feverishly preparing their auspicious venue for another spectacular event. However, 2020 has thrown some unexpected twists into the fray and these changes may take some the wind out of the hype that traditionally surrounds this Major.
Normally the first Major of any golf season, the field for the 84th Masters was set based on 2019 and early 2020 criteria. This means that since April of this year, the professionals and amateurs invited to play had already responded to that special invitation sent out my the tournament committee. With the known field, the excitement associated with the scramble to make the field in the late states of the golf season is nonexistent. But that is okay, because 2020 has been a crazy year anyway.
There will be no par 3 tournament this year. A tradition dating back to 1960, this fan favorite event will not happen because of the limited access to the grounds. This is a bit unfortunate because it enjoyed watching the players have fun with their families and the fans. Remember this from 2018?
There will be no fans allowed at Augusta National this year. COVID has driven the tournament organizers to eliminate fans watching in person. It makes complete sense given the spike in new cases, yet it does take away from the ambiance that makes The Masters the best major in golf. I fully support this decision and we shall see how thinks play out.
The honorary starters will again be Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. These two have carried the tradition on since the passing of Arnold Palmer. With Jack turning 80 this year and Gary turning 85 yesterday, how knows how long these legends can keep teeing it up at Augusta. For now, this is one tradition that COVID has not changed and I look forward to watching them swing away.
The Masters is scheduled to return to its April time slot in 2021. I doubt that the current conditions will change enough to alter the 2020 format, but lets hope so. An interesting fact is that for the first time in modern history, The Masters will be the only back to back major in professional golf. Well, that is an unexpected result!
The Masters is always a favourite of mine. It is a “tradition like no other” that never ceases to excite the golfing world. Even with the COVID changes this year, The Masters remains my favourite professional golf tournament. Is it yours?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links!