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Masters in November has different sights, still-puzzling greens and DeChambeau

By Bob Madison - For the Chronicle | Nov 13, 2020

Tiger Woods receives his green jacket after winning the Masters on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Ga. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — The azaleas of pink, orange, crimson and off-white are gone since April. The towering pines and downhill lies in the fairways are still dominate. And the 94 players invited to this year’s remodeled Masters Tournament in Georgia are going to be seen adjusting their thinking, golf shots and strategy if they want to be in contention for this Sunday’s wearing of the green jacket, annually awarded to the champion.

It’s not the visual spectacle usually associated with the Masters. Spring shrubs, trees and flowers don’t come around in November.

Pastel colors have been replaced by brown leaves drizzled along the fairways and differences in the mown and unmown grasses alongside the dangerous greens.

No player will get a pass from the coronavirus. None of the still-handsome fairways and rolling greens will be handing out free passes or information needed to negotiate them in November instead of April.

There also won’t be any sudden roars from the galleries watching from safe distances under the pines or beveled hillsides near the greens. There just won’t be any galleries at all.

The ringing calls of blue jays and the pounding of woodpeckers on trees as they search for grubs and larva will punctuate the golfers’ rounds.

The weather won’t be cold, but it could contain some showers even as early as Thursday’s opening round.

It’s the last of the four Grand Slam events for the never-before-seen golf calendar of this season.

Leaderboards will show the red numbers of those doing well. Leaderboards will likely show familiar names like Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele, instead of a lengthy list of amateurs from around the world.

Each of the 18 holes of natural wonder won’t present the same sort of expected beauty as they do in April, but each hole is known by a special name that reveals its foliage or preferred shrub or tree.

Golf history doesn’t necessarily drip from the leaves of every living plant, but Augusta National caretakers want you to salivate over the past winners of this 72-hole adventure; winners like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead.

It’s going to be a never-seen adventure. But these athletes are so attuned to winning fabled golf tournaments that some of them will rise like the rich cream in old-time bottles of delivered milk.

The Masters. This year in November. This year still in the strong hands of the sport’s most gifted players.