The Masters on Halloween? Golf Weighs Tradition Against the Calendar

The Masters on Halloween? Golf Weighs Tradition Against the Calendar

The United States Open, which is set to air on Fox Sports, would rather not ditch its plans to play this year’s event at the Winged Foot Golf Club in Westchester County, N.Y. A new date in early September is being weighed. But can there be a more challenging place right now to try to schedule a huge event than just outside New York City?

The P.G.A. Championship would also like to keep its original location, T.P.C. Harding Park in San Francisco, where weather tends to be favorable even late in the year. But the P.G.A. also said it hoped to play its championship “this summer,” and in this trying year there will be a certain status associated with being the inaugural golf major contested — a privilege usually reserved for the Masters. CBS owns the rights to air both.

Often viewed as the least prestigious major, the P.G.A. Championship might have an early August window now that the Tokyo Olympics have also been postponed. If workable, and approved by health and governmental agencies, would that be too good to pass up?

Augusta National normally closes from mid-May to October because of the scorching temperatures in a typical Georgia summer. The club prides itself on the play of its firm and fast fairways and greens, conditions that might be more attainable in November than in October.

Augusta National also has the deepest pockets. It can make autonomous decisions the other groups would struggle to make, like hosting the tournament without spectators if that would potentially make it safer. When corporate sponsors of the 2003 Masters television broadcast were being pressured because of a roiling controversy over Augusta National’s then all-male membership, the club summarily announced it would broadcast the tournament without commercials even though it meant forgoing millions of dollars in revenue.

Hosting championships without spectators or, perhaps more pertinent, without acres of on-site corporate hospitality tents would be a tougher decision for golf’s other governing bodies, which are not accustomed to taking eight-figure losses at the end of a national tournament. Those economic realities could lead to cancellations rather than postponements.

The PGA Tour, of course, wants to resume its schedule of events leading to the season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs, currently scheduled for Aug. 13 to 30. Also, keep in mind that the Ryder Cup, an international team event, is set for late September in Wisconsin. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Ryder Cup was postponed for a year. Something similar might be in the offing.

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