X

(Dollar) signs and omens pointing to a possible October Masters?

Augusta National may not look quite the same in October as it does here in April, but a Masters then certainly would be better than no Masters at all. (Tim Dominick/The State via AP, File)
Augusta National may not look quite the same in October as it does here in April, but a Masters then certainly would be better than no Masters at all. (Tim Dominick/The State via AP, File)

Credit: TIM DOMINICK

Credit: TIM DOMINICK

Judging by a single swing through the Marriott web site, just for one, somebody sure believes there is going to be a Masters in October this year.

Every reading on the gouge-o-meter is trending that way. That thing is running in the red for seven months down the road.

According to the prices listed Wednesday morning on the site, the same hotel room that would cost you $102 tonight is listed for $861 on the Thursdays of Oct. 8 and Oct. 15. Another that goes for $122 now is available for $877 those two October dates. Multiple others are listed as sold out then.

So, now, we at least have a target at which to aim some hope, highly speculative or not. Just please tell me that no one really pays that much for a hotel room in Augusta, Ga., unless they’re splitting it between no fewer than eight people.

Given the way the coronavirus has toyed with the sporting schedule, all this could change in the next five minutes. But for now, there's slight reason to believe the Masters may not be lost in 2020.

There is even a degree of logic to the idea of those dates. Even if the outbreak was brought to heel in the next month or so, a summer Masters would be ill-fitting at best.

Augusta National is traditionally closed from late May to mid-October (it's reportedly closed now to members due to the virus). The hot summer conditions may be fine for the Bermuda grass there, but it won't support the over-seeded ryegrass that really gives the place its blindingly pristine green look in the spring.

Even if they can’t recapture the exact look of a Masters April in October, even if the azaleas are napping, the climate and conditions would be more conducive to the traditional feel of the tournament in the fall rather than the summer. The bentgrass greens, a heat-intolerant strain that Augusta National manages anyway because it can, no doubt would be happier in a cooler month.

Enough agronomy. On to practical matters.

There have been more cuts to the professional golf schedule — and no surprise, April’s over-50 PGA Tour Champions event at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth has been scrapped.

On a larger scale, the season’s second major, the PGA Championship scheduled for May 14 outside San Francisco has been postponed. And, overseas, the Daily Telegraph in London reported that late September’s Ryder Cup would be moved to 2021, although others are disputing that report. And who knows about the future of Olympic golf this summer (now scheduled for late July/early August)?

As the schedule stands now, the PGA Tour season would end at East Lake and the Tour Championship Aug. 30. From there rises the possibility of playing the delayed PGA Championship in September and the Masters in October.

Conflicts with the PGA Tour fall schedule could arise, and with that the prospect of another event stepping aside to make way for the Masters or of Augusta National buying off the event.

And there are all sorts of questions to be answered about who might be qualified to play the Masters at a later date. For instance, what about those who were top 50 in the world two week’s prior to April 9 — and eligible for the Masters — who may slip out of that position by October? Or those who might rise to the top 50 in advance of the rescheduled tournament but were out of the picture in spring? And are those who win a PGA Tour event in the summer — presuming some normalcy returns by then — eligible for an October Masters or for the 2021 tournament, as they would have been originally?

The Masters sets its own field. It can do whatever it likes, and frankly a little expanding of its field wouldn’t be a bad thing.

A fall Masters certainly would test the resolve of the fans (the tournament prefers you call them patrons), but they are a resourceful bunch.

Just imagine, though, of having to make a call between going to the Masters on Oct. 10 or to the Georgia-Auburn game.

If there is no Masters this year, it would be an incredibly sad anomaly. It would be the first such halt in play since the war years of 1943-45.

But according to the free market, which is taking such a beating now, there are some good signs on the other side of summer.

About the Author

ajc.com