After the Open Championship cancelled, and the PGA and US Open decided to go ahead without fans, there was hope that the final major, the Masters, being held in November, might somehow allow the patrons to watch the year’s final major.
By November, we thought – or at least hoped – that we’d be able to find a way to do this without putting everyone at risk.
The Masters has always seemed to find solutions to problems that other tournaments don’t come up with.
When the greens were too wet, it installed the first SubAir systems to suck the moisture out of the putting surfaces from underneath.
When golfers started hitting the ball farther, it lengthened the course, buying up surrounding property to achieve the expansion. It went so far as to get the bordering Augusta Country Club to sell one of its holes.
When golfers started playing to the right side of the 11th hole after it was lengthened, the club planted trees to prevent that. Not little saplings but fully grown ones, using the world’s largest tree planter to do the job.
But COVID-19 is a dragon they can’t slay. Wisely, and with plenty of notice, organizers decided the tournament will go on without patrons.
It was the right decision. Augusta National rarely makes a bad one.
But in my mind, this announcement goes beyond a major golf tournament. This says that we can forget about having anyone in the seats, the stands or along the fairway (aside from cardboard cutouts) for some time, certainly through the end of this year.
The Masters and a golf tournament held outside would be the place to find an answer to this problem. It seems about the best stage to stay safe, if there is one.
But if there are no patrons at Augusta National, you can forget about Yankee Stadium or Scotiabank Arena or Lambeau Field or any other venue. The only crowd noise is going to be that of the piped-in variety.
This also means there won’t be any roars on the back nine on Sunday after a leaderboard-changing eagle on 13 or a ball that rolls down the slope on 16 and nestles up beside the pin.
But there will still be a Masters, and someone will slip on a Green Jacket. It will just all be done on a quiet Sunday afternoon in Augusta.