PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JULY 17
By Leo Haggerty

WHY IT’S THE MASTERS

 If you haven’t already done so, please take a couple minutes to read my earlier column on the April predictions I made involving sports during the pandemic. It will help you make sense out of this posting.

You’re all probably wondering what I used as a basis for my prognostications on the effect of Covid-19 as it applied to athletic events. Well, I had two pretty good barometers to go by so let me share them with you.

The first was that I had my own “Deep Throat” as a source. This individual was extremely elevated in the government health industry. He warned me, along with other pertinent details, that this was a whole lot worse than was being reported back in March. Sadly, that assessment was spot on along with everything else that was shared with me.

The second was the decision to move The Masters. Fred Ridley, who is the chairman of Augusta National, made the call on April 6th when the effects of the coronavirus was still being debated. He stated that the decision was “incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials” to move the event to November 12th through the 15th. Keep the “favorable counsel” phrase in mind because that’s a keeper.

Now, combining that decision by the group that historically hosts the first of the four major golf tournaments with the information I already had obtained from my source, that threw up a red flag in my mind.  A big red flag.

If this were just a bad case of the flu, why was the event moved to a date where Mother Nature could have a definite impact on the outcome? That part didn’t compute and here’s why..

The environmental impact could, or should I say will, be substantial.  In April, the average temperature is 77 for a high and 48 for a low. In November, that drops to 69 for a high and 41 for a low. A bit brisk to say the least.

Also, Augusta National will most likely play longer. The wind, which in April is helping on three of the par 5’s, in November will be in the face of the golfers on #8 and #13 and #15. That could be a pretty stiff breeze and will make going for the green on their second shots a lot riskier.

Finally, daylight will become a factor. Sunset in April is just before 8 pm EDT. That changes dramatically in November when the sun disappears just before 5:30 EST.

Playing during Standard Time, and not Daylight Saving Time, would probably force the tournament to start groups on #10 just to finish before darkness hit. That would be a radical move by The Masters and we all know the group in Augusta doesn’t like change.

So, I asked myself, why did The Masters move the most prestigious tournament in the United States to a date where so many factors will affect play? That answer came to me like a bolt of lightning.

The decision makers in Georgia probably received the same information that I had. They were probably informed, as I was, that the coronavirus was not going away soon.

The best advice they were given was to reschedule the event as far back on the calendar as you could so fans could possibly attend. That way, if you moved it to August, there was still a very good chance that it would have to be moved again or, even worse, cancelled.

Give credit to The Masters. They made the right decision and rescheduled on a date where the tournament can be safely played. Now, if they get really lucky, there may even be fans in attendance.

If the latter happens, The Masters needs to take a bow. They got it right and will come up smelling like a rose. Or, should I say Azalea.