The following was written by VSiN’s Brady Kannon
I am often asked which golf major is my favorite. My response always is that if you ask me in April, it is the Masters. But if you ask me in the summertime, it is the British Open.
Well, in 2020, I guess it is the Masters because the British was canceled.
But a Masters in November? Honestly, I don’t have the same excitement, anticipation and giddiness I normally would because we are not ushering in springtime, celebrating the beauty of Augusta National Golf Club with all the flowers in bloom and experiencing that feeling like the golf season now is officially here. The tradition, unlike any other, feels different — and the course is going to play differently.
That is where some of the handicap begins. The temperatures in Augusta, Ga., this week will be like they are in April, if not warmer. The forecast calls for the high 70s to low 80s, with quite a bit of rain. Augusta National normally shuts down for the summer and reopens to the membership in October. In September, the maintenance practice of overseeding is performed. The Bermuda grass fairways are scalped and winter ryegrass seed is applied to all the fairways and rough areas. The bentgrass greens, by the way, are not affected, as bentgrass does not need to be overseeded. The putting surfaces should be very similar to what we see in the traditional April slot.
With the tournament being played in November, the ryegrass obviously is not afforded the same amount of time to mature and take hold, so the fairways and collection areas around the greens won’t be as manicured. They will be thinner and wispier and still have remnants of the Bermuda base. With thundershowers in the forecast, players will be hitting shots off wet, soft, possibly even muddy surfaces. But remember that while these conditions generally will be true, Augusta National has the most extensive, multimillion-dollar, underground course-maintenance system in the world and can tweak Mother Nature miraculously. So maybe we will get a product somewhere in between what we normally see in April and the soft, wet, immature fairways.
I believe you still have to handicap the Masters as you always would, focusing on the same areas. For me those are strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained: approach, par-5 scoring, scrambling and bogey avoidance. But I do believe with the November date, emphasis probably needs to be placed more on iron play — approach and scrambling. The shots around the greens will be a bit different, and players will need to adjust.
So much talk has been made about length off the tee, specifically Bryson DeChambeau. While I believe this gives DeChambeau an advantage and that length always is key at Augusta, iron play, wedge play and scrambling around the greens may be more important this week.
Experience always goes a long way at Augusta. It takes at least a few laps around this track before most players go on to win. Experience this year, with the different conditions, may be more important than ever. But don’t be surprised if some first-timers fare very well because they obviously don’t know the course any other way from what is right in front of them — a Masters in November, ushering in autumn.
(many numbers have changed since these wagers were placed)
Jon Rahm (15-1)
Dustin Johnson (20-1)
Patrick Cantlay (35-1)
Hideki Matsuyama (40-1)
Bubba Watson (45-1)
Adam Scott (45-1)
Scottie Scheffler (80-1)
Full Tournament Head to Head Match Ups
Bernhard Langer (-130) over Sung Kang
Lanto Griffin (-150) over Henrik Stenson
Jon Rahm (-135) over Bryson DeChambeau
Jason Kokrak (-140) over Gary Woodland
Lanto Griffin (+115) over Billy Horschel