It’s easy to panic when you see the colors. Brown. Tan. Pea-green.
In fact, it feels too 2020.
A recent aerial photo of Augusta National Golf Club makes it easy to get nervous when you start thinking about the first-ever November Masters, and how it’s just a handful of weeks away. The 84th edition of the grand tournament, which was supposed to be played in its traditional April slot, was re-scheduled for Nov. 9-15.
But the shot, which made the rounds on social media, is simply the famous golf course’s traditional September look. It’s unnerving, for certain, but not out of the ordinary.
Overseeding is set to begin soon, if it hasn’t already. The grasses take less than a week to surface after the original seed is spread.
As you might expect, summers are steamy in Augusta, with a humid subtropical climate taking its toll on the famed golf course. Although the Bermuda grass can handle the heat, it starts to turn brown in the fall when cooler temperatures set in. For example, low temperatures are expected to get down into the 40s by week’s end.
Around this time each year, Augusta National crews start to put down a rye grass, which returns the course to green — even if it’s not as lavish as in spring. The course is typically closed from May until October while this process plays out.
It’s a different experience, but still a good one, according to those who have walked the fairways in fall.
“Playing in October is very different to April in the fact the Bermuda grass was still fighting with the overseed,” Luke Donald told Golfweek’s Steve DiMeglio of the 7,475-yard course.
According to Donald, a SubAir system that controls the temperature and moisture of all the greens and many landing areas in the fairways will make this Masters course play as similar as possible to April’s course.
“And the greens are always pure there so they’d be fast and true. But there would certainly be some Bermuda grass fighting with the overseed,” Donald continued. “The fairways would be a little bit softer because you’re usually coming off a very warm summer in Georgia, which goes through September, so you’re just starting to cool off in October. With that heat you have to water the course a lot.
“I just think the course would play a bit longer.”
Rory McIlroy, who has yet to capture a green jacket, agrees that length will be at a premium.
“November is going to be different. It’s going to be cold. The course can play very long. I mean, it plays long already, but it could play very long. The greens might not be as fast as they usually are in April, depending on the moisture,” McIlroy told Michelle Wie in an Instagram Live. “Obviously, they can do whatever they want with the course with SubAir and everything, but I think it’ll be a different feel as well.”