This morning, Fred Ridley, the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club released a statement stating that they are postponing the 84th Masters Championship and all other amateur events scheduled for April 9-12, 2020 due to the rising threat to public health from COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. “Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision. We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.” The announcement went out on full blast across social media platforms Friday morning.
Ridley’s full statement can be found on the Masters website. He acknowledged that they had previously made the call to continue with competition but as this crisis is ever evolving, that changed. “On Wednesday, March 4, we issued a memo stating that our plans to host the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals had not changed. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing risks associated with the widespread Coronavirus COVID-19 have led us to a decision that undoubtedly will be disappointing to many, although I am confident is appropriate under these unique circumstances.”
This postponement is significant, as the historic tournament has been played every April since 1945, without fail. Just before that it had been cancelled from 1943 to 1945, because of World War II. But, for all the disappointed fans out there, it is important to read the statement carefully. This is not, as of now, a cancellation. It is a postponement, and there is still hope a new green jacket could be handed out at a later date this year. And it’s not the first time a major golf championship had to be moved. As CBS Sports reports, the 1971 PGA Championship moved from February to August due to the weather. Jack Nicklaus won that coveted prize.
This decision, that was not made lightly, came after news that most of the sports world would be shutting down as this deadly virus continues to impact more and more Americans. The NBA has suspended their season early after one player, and now another on the Utah Jazz have tested positive. The NHL followed suit, and Major League Baseball has delayed opening day of their season. NCAA March Madness has been cancelled and NASCAR has stated they will run the next two races without fans in the stands. Now too, the golf world is making this bold, proactive step to protect its fans, athletes, media, and personnel.
While we may be disappointed in these announcements, it’s very important that we heed the warnings from the CDC, keep ourselves and our families safe, and those world-famous pimento cheese sandwiches will be the just reward of our patience and understanding