It came as no surprise last week when Augusta National confirmed what had been suspected – there will be no spectators at the Masters when it’s played in November.
Still, it landed like a hammer.
For all the things the Masters is – the ghosts, the setting, the green jacket – it’s also about the people who are as much a part of the event as Amen Corner. They’re not fans at Augusta National. They’re patrons.
As different as the Masters is in so many ways, it will be like every other tournament since the pandemic struck – silent.
This Masters already was going to be unusual, playing Augusta National when the leaves are changing rather than when the dogwoods and azaleas are blooming. The days will be shorter, the mornings cooler and it will be ushering in winter rather than spring.
Still, it’s the Masters.
“It’s going to be surreal,” Paul Casey said. “It’s special to play there – the golf course is amazing – but I don’t know what to think yet. I honestly don’t. It might be quiet. It might be eerie.”
There won’t be hundreds gathered around the first tee for the ceremonial opening tee shot on Thursday morning.
There won’t be people sitting on the hillside beneath the par-3 sixth tee, where players hit shots over them.
There won’t be bleachers filled around Amen Corner and the hillside that looks down on the 11th green and 12th tee will be largely empty.
And, on Sunday afternoon when someone makes that famous walk up the 18th fairway, they will do it to the sound of silence.
It will be unforgettable, as it always is.
Ron Green Jr.