Temperature forecasts for the mid-70s to low 80s this week should make this November’s Masters feel like April, ending months of conjecture and speculation by players, fans and the media about playing Augusta National Golf Club in the cold.
Since Augusta National chairman Fred S. Ridley announced this year’s rescheduled dates due to COVID-19, golfers have shared their experiences playing the course in the fall.
From champions like Tiger Woods, who said he would play in the fall in years when there were extensive course changes, to rookie Sebastian Muñoz, who said he canceled his round last November due to a change in temperatures overnight, players offered their thoughts.
“I have played there in November,” Woods said at October’s Zozo Championship. “And the few times that I have played in November, it’s been the same. It’s been cold, ball doesn’t go very far.”
Aiken’s Kevin Kisner and Augusta State alumnus Patrick Reed both predicted the course would play longer in cooler temperatures and wetter weather.
What are the normal Masters temperatures?
Of the roughly 335 days tournament golf has been played in Augusta, more than 60 percent of those have had a high temperature between 70 and 85 degrees, according to data from the National Weather Service. But there have been rounds in the extremes that affect how the course plays.
Horton Smith won the inaugural tournament in March 1934 with a high temperature of 47, while the overnight low for the first round of Zach Johnson’s 2007 triumph was 26 degrees.
The most common temperature in Augusta on days when Masters rounds have been played is 79 degrees. Friday’s forecast for that temperature would be the 23rd round in Masters history at that number.
So, this is an unusual November?
Besides playing the Masters? Not really, in terms of high temperatures. Over the past 10 years, the highs in Augusta during these same days mostly have been between 60 and 80 degrees.
The biggest difference in this year’s forecast is in the overnight lows. The predictions for this week, according to Accuweather, are supposed to be in the 60s and 70s.
In the last decade, the November lows have ranged from the low 30s to the upper 50s, creating temperature differences of 30 degrees or more from early morning to late afternoon.
That would have created a sharp difference in playing conditions for golfers teeing off on the second nine and facing Amen Corner early Thursday or Friday morning.
Isn’t there rain in the forecast?
Storms and showers are in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday this week, adding to players’ projections for a longer course due to wetter conditions.
It has rained during 44 Masters tournaments — from single-day showers that didn’t interrupt play to long delays and even full-day washouts like the one in 1973 that led to a Masters first — threesomes with a two-tee start.
There have been 30 Masters rounds delayed or postponed because of weather or darkness – an residual effect of players impacted by the weather.
What about the wind?
Veteran players look at the flags atop the main scoreboard to see which direction the wind is blowing from the first tee.
Forecasts for this week at windfinder.com show shifting winds from the northeast to the northwest of 2-3 mph for Thursday followed by mostly northwest winds with gusts up to 20 mph the rest of the tournament.
“If you’re able to get the north wind that time of year, it can be awfully difficult and long and very different than what we normally play in April,” Woods said in October, a sentiment echoed by Reed and Kisner.
“So every year in November, I hit 4-iron into No. 1 because it plays into the wind and there’s no roll,” Kisner said.
But a northwest wind has proven helpful to the shorter hitters in the past by leveling the playing field against the long bombers.
“You’ve got some of the longer holes down breeze and you’ve also neutralized the par 5s on the back nine at 13 and 15,” Furyk told The Augusta Chronicle in 2010. “(The wind) neutralizes the field a little bit and it gives (short to medium hitters) an advantage.”
The proof Furyk said, is provided by Mike Weir in 2003 and Zach Johnson in 2007. Both are medium-length hitters who have trouble reaching the par 5s in two at Augusta National even under the most favorable wind conditions, Furyk said.
And the tropical weather in the news?
The path of Tropical Storm Eta is still too early to predict, although it is expected to be off the west coast of Florida on Friday.
Strong winds and hurricanes been have part of the Masters since the beginning. Hotel financier J. Perry Stolz’s plans to demolish the old farmhouse at the Berckmans property were ended when a devastating hurricane wiped out Miami in 1926.
Stolz’s finances were ruined and Fruitland Nurseries went back on the market, where Bobby Jones found it as the spot to build his ideal course.