The Masters in November – What will it look like? by Brian Peters
The Masters in November — An Experience Unlike Any Other!
The Masters in November? You heard that right! The 2020 Masters golf tournament has been rescheduled from its traditional dates in April and will now be played the week of November 9-15, 2020. This will be the latest in the calendar year that the tournament has ever been played — and by a very wide margin. The last time the tournament was not played in April was back in 1939, and that year it was played in March. No previous round at the Masters has ever been played later than April 15th.
Since 1945, the Masters has always been played during the first full week of April. It typically signals the end of a long winter and the jubilant beginning of springtime, complete with radiant flowers in their full bloom. A series of photos recently circulated from President Reagan’s visit to the course during Autumn, which can be seen HERE. The Masters is historically golf’s first major championship, setting the stage for the entire golf season to follow.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the PGA will be playing an abbreviated schedule of events this year. The British Open has been cancelled entirely for 2020. The Masters is shuffled to November and will conclude the majors. It now will signal an end to fall before the fast approaching onset of winter.
The most significant golf tournaments of 2020 are as follows:
Aug 3-9: PGA Championship, TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California
Sep 14-20: U.S. Open, Winged Foot Golf Club, Mamaroneck, New York
Sep 21-27: Ryder Cup, Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin
Nov 9-15: Masters Tournament, Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia
Augusta in November
What to expect
The weather in Augusta, GA, is similar in November to that in April. The average high temperature will be in the mid-60’s, which is about 10 degrees cooler than the average high temperature in April. The mornings will likely be cold, but the days should warm up to pleasant golfing weather. Rainfall is likely sometime during the week, but there is no reason to expect it to be a significant factor. The average rainfall in November is almost identical to that of April.
Prevailing winds in November will come from the north, which is different from the southerly winds that dominate the springtime in Augusta. That creates a new dynamic, as holes that traditionally play downwind will be into the wind during the tournament. We may witness some interesting club selections and new strategies as golfers face an unfamiliar test at Augusta National. Many golfers who’ve played Augusta National in November report that overall the course plays longer than in the springtime, which should favor the long hitters in the field.
The biggest difference with the November Masters will be fewer daylight hours. In April, the tournament usually concludes about 6:30PM, as long shadows are beginning to be cast across the fairways. April normally boasts 13 hours of sunlight and a sunset about 8:00PM, as the days are still growing longer. In November, however, there are only about 10.5 hours of daylight, and sunset will happen by 5:30PM. What does this mean for the tournament?
Organizers for the Masters have a number of tools at their disposal to finish the tournament on a tighter schedule. In fact, as recently as last year in 2019, inclement weather meant that the Masters tournament final round concluded by 2PM locally, a full four hours ahead of the normally scheduled finish.
How did they accomplish this?
Start Earlier – Normally, the Augusta National gates open about 7:00AM, with a first tee time after 8:00AM. It’s very easy to open the gates earlier and move the first tee time up by half an hour.
Split Tees – To get more golfers out on the course, alternating groups can be sent out on the front and back nines at the same time. This is the most effective way to condense the schedule and is quite common at larger tournaments with more participants. The Masters doesn’t typically like this format, but will use it if needed to overcome any weather delays.
Utilize Threesomes – The Masters traditionally sends out threesomes during the first two rounds of the tournament, and then just pair groupings for the final two rounds. However, if time is short, they have combined Threesomes with Split Tees to get a round completed as quickly as possible.
For the final round in 2019, The Masters implemented all three of these tools to conclude the Sunday championship round in a remarkable six and a half hours. It is very likely that we will see earlier start times in 2020, and if there are any weather delays, we can expect all three of these tools to be utilized. Augusta National will find a way to finish the tournament on time.
What about the Players?
The field for the Masters was already set for the April tournament dates, and organizers have announced that it will remain exactly the same for the rescheduled dates in November. In total, 96 players have been invited to play.
In case you were wondering what it takes to qualify for the Masters, here is the official list of what gets a player into the field.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR INVITATION
Masters Tournament Champions (Lifetime exemption)
US Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
British Open Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
PGA Champions (Honorary, non-competing after 5 years)
Winners of The Players Championship (3 years)
Current Olympic Gold Medalist (1 year)
Current US Amateur Champion (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year) and the runner-up to the current US Amateur Champion
Current British Amateur Champion (Honorary, non-competing after 1 year)
Current Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion
Current Latin America Amateur Champion
Current US Mid-Amateur Champion
The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year’s Masters Tournament
The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year’s US Open Championship
The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year’s British Open Championship
The first 4 players, including ties, in the previous year’s PGA Championship
Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from previous Masters to current Masters
Those qualifying for the previous year’s season-ending Tour Championship
The 50 leaders on the Final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year
The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament
The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking prior to the originally scheduled Masters Tournament at Week 11 (March 15th, 2020)
Players who win tournaments in the restarted 2020 season will not earn invitations to the November Masters. Instead, they will have the opportunity to play next April, when the tournament returns to a normal schedule.
Certainly the most eyes will be on the defending Masters champion, Tiger Woods. He won the 2019 Masters to claim his 5th Masters Championship and 15th major championship overall, leaving him just 3 behind Jack Nicklaus for the most major tournament victories of all time. Prior to the 2019 Masters, Tiger Woods had not won a major tournament since the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, an historic pause between victories. It remains to be seen if the postponement until November will be beneficial to Tiger. He is without a doubt the most popular player in the field, and his presence will be felt in Augusta, win or lose.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about a November Masters is that once the tournament concludes on November 15, we only have to wait 5 months for the next Masters to roll around. The April 2021 Masters is back on the traditional schedule and will run from April 5 – 11, 2021. Two Masters in five months will be an extraordinary treat to golf fans everywhere.