A November Masters could be worth the wait when golf returns

IT IS an exciting time for golf now that we have a revised schedule to plan for in the second half of the year.

Of course, the situation is so dynamic and could change again at any time over the coming weeks and months. But it’s something we can all look forward to now the governing bodies and major organisers have set dates for a US PGA Championship in August, a US Open and a Ryder Cup in September and the Masters in mid-November.

It’s going to be a very joyous time for the game.

A Masters in the US fall, or autumn as we call it, has the potential to be a wonderful novelty. Red and yellow leaves falling on the green fairways of Augusta National. Weather and playing conditions at Augusta like we’ve never seen before. As former Augusta Chronicle sports columnist Scott Michaux pointed out, “It could be very colourful if the leaves are changing; there are enough hardwood trees on the property that if (Augusta National) times it right, it could look really spectacular.”

I always suspected November was going to be the slot for the Masters. October is just too early, in my opinion.

It would be difficult to get Augusta National to look like it does in April any sooner than November. It’s an overseeded golf course. It’s a Bermuda-based course like we are used to in parts of Australia and at my US base in Florida, and then they overseed it with rye grass when the Bermuda goes dormant in the colder months.

Augusta National closes the course during summer and then re-opens in October. Realistically, they’d need until November to get the course in Masters shape. But the greens will be great at Augusta in November and the course should be looking really green.

I think the TV broadcasts will be just as good. CBS, who I work for, is the best in the business and the Masters is an event the network treasures.

In general, though, TV networks in the US will have their work cut out in terms of programming – deciding what sport goes on what channel when a number of sports, including golf, resume or begin in the aftermath of the coronavirus.

College football, which dominates Saturdays in American sport, begins at the end of August. The NFL, which is mostly played on Sundays, kicks off in early September.

One thing I do know is that everyone will work together to make golf broadcasts as good as they can be. I know the US PGA Tour – and the governing bodies who run the Majors – are going to liaise with the major TV networks and the big sponsors to strike a good outcome for everyone.

There can be plenty of good to come out of the suspension of golf and one thing I have my eye on is whether the forced break can be a good thing for Tiger Woods and Jason Day. Although their circumstances are very different, they both have back injuries and could benefit from a break in competitive golf where they don’t lose any ground in the world ranking or any FedEx Cup points.

With Tiger, having extra time off without having to prepare for and compete in tournaments gives him a leg up. I’m not sure Tiger has a back issue that needs medical attention more than it just needs rest and preparation time.But for Jason, who looks like he may need surgery of some sort, it’s a big plus for him because he can spend extra time rehabbing his back.

It is also an opportunity for a lot of guys with young families to get in some great family time. I know Adam Scott is back in Queensland, on the Sunshine Coast, and that is a good opportunity to get some family time with his wife and two children. I know Marc Leishman is enjoying time off with his wife and three kids at Virginia Beach and Jason is doing the same with his family in Ohio.

When we come back, golf has a real opportunity to be so appreciative of what we’ve missed. The fans are going to be starved of golf and the players are going to be champing at the bit to compete.

It’s fun to think about. Now we just have to wait. – with Evin Priest