Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said Tuesday the club intends to allow a limited number of spectators for the Masters on April 8-11, provided it can be done safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other areas, the Masters in April will be a lot like the last one in November. Ridley said it will be conducted with similar health and safety standards. Those standards included mandatory testing for the coronavirus and masks being worn to prevent its spread.
Ridley said holding the Masters with only essential personnel made the club confident in its ability to stage a major championship with limited fans.
The Masters was played Nov. 12-15 — the first time in the autumn since it began in 1934 — because of the pandemic that forced golf to reconfigure its major championship season and led to the cancellation of the British Open.
Ridley did not indicate how many spectators will be allowed. The Masters does not publicize how many tickets it sells or how many people typically are on the grounds. It has been estimated at roughly 40,000, though it’s far easier to judge the attendance in volume decibels.
The roars are a big part of what makes the Masters, and they were missing in November when Dustin Johnson set the scoring record at 20-under 268 to win by five shots for his first green jacket.
The club is so confident that Ridley also said the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which was canceled last year after its debut in 2019, and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, will be held with a small number of spectators.
Golf has been without a full house since the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Florida, in March. The Players Championship the following week cut off attendance by midday of the opening round, and then the PGA Tour shut down for the next three months and returned without fans.
The Houston Open sold 2,000 tickets a day in November. The Sentry Tournament of Champions had about 200 people in an area near the 18th green.
But no tournament is more defined by noise than the Masters.