Sources: Augusta National might ban patrons at Masters; Update: 2020 Masters posptoned

March 12, 2020
Empty grandstands and a flagstick at Augusta National

UPDATE: On Friday morning, March 13, Augusta National announced that it was postponing the 2020 Masters, as well as the 2020 Augusta National Women’s Amateur and Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. In the official statement, ANGC chairman Fred Ridley said, “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 night before, the PGA Tour contacted players via text message announcing that the remainder of the 2020 Players Championship would be canceled. All Tour events between now and the Masters in early April were also canceled.

**********

ORIGINAL STORY:

As the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the sports world, Augusta National is now considering whether to limit patrons at the upcoming 2020 Masters, or ban them from the premises altogether, according to multiple sources.

An Augusta National member wrote in a text to GOLF senior writer Alan Shipnuck Thursday morning: “I believe the tournament will be played. Discussions are ongoing. Limiting patrons seems likely. Might be none at all. Closing practice rounds, canceling the Par-3…everything is on the table. Expect an announcement next week.”

This matches reporting from Golf Digest’s Joel Beall and Brian Wacker from earlier in the morning. According to their sources, tournament organizers are expected to make a decision in the next few days.

“A week after stating tournament will proceed as planned, Augusta National is reviewing contingencies for the 2020 Masters, sources tell @brianwacker1 and I, which includes limiting patrons or playing on empty course,” Beall wrote in his tweet. “Decision expected over weekend or Monday.”

Augusta National has yet to respond to inquiries from GOLF.com about these reports. One week ago, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said the Masters would proceed as planned.

The news comes the morning after the NBA suspended its entire season when Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. On the same night, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a temporary ban on all travel to the United States from much of Europe in an attempt to stifle the spread of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. The travel ban, in particular, could have major impacts on international players in the Masters field.

While the European Tour has already postponed four tournaments in light of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, the PGA Tour has yet to announce any cancellations. This first round of this week’s Players Championship got underway Thursday morning. So far spectators have not been prohibited from attending the event, though the Tour has posted signs warning that players will not sign autographs at the tournament as a precautionary measure.

As of now, the 2020 Masters is set to take place April 9-12 in Augusta, Ga.

To receive GOLF’s all-new newsletters, subscribe for free here.