News & Opinion

Masters scraps Par 3 Contest again

The Masters
Augusta National Golf Club, site of the annual Masters Tournament

For 2nd consecutive year, annual rite of Masters week falls victim to COVID-19 pandemic, Augusta National Golf Club announces

The Masters Par 3 Contest will not be played for a second consecutive year because of social-distancing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Augusta National Golf Club officials announced Monday.

The tournament, held annually on the Wednesday of Masters week at the club’s nine-hole par-3 course, debuted in 1960, when it was won by three-time Masters champion Sam Snead. No golfer has won the Par 3 Contest and gone on to win the Masters later in the week.

Much of the appeal of the exhibition is the closeness of the competitors, many of whom invite family members to tag along, to the spectators standing shoulder-to-shoulder while surrounding the tightly routed course. With the latest cancellation, the Par 3 Contest will have been held in only two of the past five years of the Masters. The 2017 exhibition was canceled because of heavy rain.

In January, Augusta National announced that a “limited” number of spectators would be allowed onsite this year, without elaborating. Face coverings will be required, and social distancing of 6 feet or more will be enforced, club officials said. During the PGA Tour’s four-week Florida Swing, which concludes this week at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, spectators have been allowed to return to tournaments, which have limited capacity to 25 percent of their usual crowds.

The Masters is scheduled for April 8-11, returning to its customary slot as the first major championship of the year after having been played in November 2020.

Before the tournament, the club intends to co-host the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. The first two rounds will be played at nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club, and the final round will be held at Augusta National on Saturday, April 3. On Sunday, April 4, Augusta National will be the site of the Drive, Chip and Putt national finals. Both events will limit the number of spectators on the grounds.

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