2020 Masters Tournament: How Will Augusta Play in November? We Still Don’t Know
Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Augusta National Golf Club.
Way back on April 6 of this year, when the early stages of a global pandemic had shut down so much of our society let alone a golf schedule that wouldn’t resume for more than another month, Augusta National officials announced that the next edition of their Masters Tournament would be rescheduled for November, a one-time tradition that would truly be unlike any other.
Among the myriad questions in the immediate aftermath of that announcement: How will the world’s most famous golf course play seven months later than usual?
Now that we’ve reached Masters week and competitors have started playing practice rounds, we finally have an answer to this question.
We still don’t know yet.
All right, so recent rain has left the course long and soft, while more impending rain will only enhance these conditions. But if there’s been a prevailing feeling among those polled so far, it’s that we’ve yet to really see how the course will play during the tournament’s four rounds.
“From [Sunday] to [Monday] was a change,” 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth said, “and then I think I’m used to seeing a significant change Wednesday to Thursday, and then a significant change Friday to Saturday just as you walk on and around the green. It’s weather dependent every year, too.”
“A lot of things can change very, very rapidly,” Tommy Fleetwood added. “They think that they can do some kind of magic and change the course as much as they want.”
All of which begs a few questions: How much can players learn during these practice rounds? Is experience on this course in April more helpful or hurtful in different conditions? And of course, which players will ultimately hold an advantage in the eventual conditions?
Much like queries about the course itself, these largely remain unanswered so far.
Perhaps the answer to the final question — which players will hold an advantage — lies within those who own an innate ability to be flexible during the week.
“I think what’s cool about golf, is that you have to adjust,” said Collin Morikawa, the winner of August’s PGA Championship. “My caddie, J.J. [Jakovac], could have had these lines from, whatever, five years ago, three years ago, and said, ‘This is the line,’ but with wind, with rain, with where the tees might be, it’s just about adjusting and figure out what the line might be for that day.
“That’s golf. You know, you just have to adjust.”
Just like at so many other golf tournaments, this week’s guessing game is dependent on the weather.
“I think the biggest difference will just be once the rain starts to come this week,” Patrick Cantlay said. “It looks like it’s just going to rain every day. I was surprised to see actually how warm it is this week for a November week. I was expecting cooler weather. So warm and rain showers this week, so I’m sure the golf course will play soft.”
The questions being asked in April are still being asked now, just a few days before the opening round is set to begin.
Meanwhile, the answer to how the course will play isn’t black and white, but, like the autumnal hues surrounding Augusta National this week, an evolving metamorphosis as the tourney progresses.
“That’s the thing — you just take it each day that comes, really,” Fleetwood said. “They can change it as quick as they want, and they can do some crazy things, like, to make a difference. … I think this week, more than pretty much any other week or golf course, just being out on the course is so important.”