Another beloved Masters tradition has been put on hold for 2020: the Wednesday Par 3 Contest.
Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley announced overnight that the low-key lead-in to the tournament, first held in 1960, will not take place when the Masters is contested without fans next month.
“The fun and excitement of watching Masters competitors with their friends and family is what makes the Par 3 Contest such a special part of Masters week,” Ridley stated in a press release. “We know that experience could not have been replicated without guests and patrons at Augusta National, and we eagerly anticipate the opportunity to bring back this signature tradition.”
Ridley had previously announced the cancellation of this year’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, two other Masters-week events waylaid due to COVID-19.
Still, not all early week traditions are going missing. The club is planning to hold the Champions Dinner on the Tuesday evening and announced it will still start the 84th playing of the tournament on Thursday, November 12 with the ceremonial opening tee shots from honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
Augusta National’s Par 3 course, designed by George Cobb and club co-founder Clifford Roberts, opened in the autumn of 1958 to rave reviews. The nine-hole course was such a hit that it was incorporated into the Masters, with the inaugural Par 3 Contest won by Sam Snead.
“Due to the indicated popularity of this new type of preliminary event with the patrons and players, it is likely that it will be staged again next year on the day preceding the first round of the Masters Tournament,” Roberts told the Augusta Chronicle.
In the years since, Roberts’ words have proven true, as the Par-3 Contest has become one of the more popular traditions during tournament week. Aside from those playing in the Masters, the Par 3 is filled with retired legends making a victory lap of sorts, producing a nostalgic ambience to the proceedings.
Over the years the Par 3 Contest has transformed into something resembling a “family day” for the players, many allowing friends or family to serve as their caddies (or in some instances, their proxy on the ninth tee).
The Par 3 is also noted for its “curse”, as no player has won the Par 3 and the Masters in the same year. Most Masters entrants will purposefully DQ at the Par-3 Contest, hoping to avoid the event’s jinx. Last year’s winner, England’s Matt Wallace, missed the cut with rounds of 75 and 77.