Martin Dempster: Why players are yearning for ‘complete opposite’ Masters in April

It was better than nothing and that’s not a dig at the R&A for deciding to pull the plug on this year’s Open Championship at Royal St George’s as the three other men’s majors were saved because it all came down to logistics.

Augusta National had an autumnal look for this year's Masters and Rory McIlroy is looking forward to the Georgia venue being back to its more traditional look and how it plays in April. Picture: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Augusta National had an autumnal look for this year's Masters and Rory McIlroy is looking forward to the Georgia venue being back to its more traditional look and how it plays in April. Picture: Rob Carr/Getty Images

But, for me and the majority of others by the sounds of things, the Masters is more exciting, entertaining and enthralling in its traditional April slot at Augusta National than in November.

Don't get me wrong. It was to terrific to see the Georgia venue in its autumn colours and, boy, did it look spectacular in some of the aerial views from new drone cameras.

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The downside of the event being held at this time of the year was that Mother Nature's hand delivered a totally different test than we are used to seeing.

Let's not beat about the bush. After the thunderstorm that led to a three-hour delay on Thursday morning, the event was turned into target golf for the first two days.

"What little bit of golf I saw after the rain was like throwing darts," observed six-time winner Jack Nicklaus of the opening circuit in a post on Twitter.

"There was no wind to speak of, the greens had no fire in them, and everywhere the ball hit just stopped. That is hardly Augusta National at its finest or most challenging."

Yes, of course, there are still holes on this golf course that can cause headaches even when it's soft underfoot, as the event's second most-decorated player, Tiger Woods, discovered in taking his 10 at the par-3 12th in the final round.

It's just not the same, though, when it's playing more like courses do week in, week out on the PGA Tour and it spoke volumes hearing some players yearning for it to be back to, well, normal in April.

"I feel like there's a lot of shots I hit this week where I hit my number and it would spin back off a green or it just wouldn't do what you expect it to do," said Rory McIlroy of the impact of the soft conditions. "In April, the course will hopefully play maybe more what we're accustomed to."

Echoing that view, Jon Rahm said: "I hope they make it as firm as possible, the complete opposite of what we saw this week. I was joking with Patrick Reed walking down the last few holes saying, ‘it's like you almost have to hit the delete button from what you learned this week because it's never, ever going to play the same way again’. So I kind of hope we see a more challenging Masters in April."

Will the world have returned to a stage where the patrons will be back in attendance then? Only time will tell, but the warm up event in Houston on the PGA Tour had fans and you can see a drip-feed process continuing on the US circuit.

With all due respect to the US PGA Championship and US Open, as well as the ones in the women's game, this was the major in 2020 that really suffered from being staged behind closed doors, so here's hoping that it doesn't have to happen again in a few months' time.

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