Three days after announcing that the Masters Tournament would be postponed indefinitely, Augusta National will close the club to members later this week, the club confirmed to ESPN.
The home of the Masters traditionally closes for the summer months in late May and re-opens in mid-October. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, club chairman Fred Ridley sent a memo to members outlining the plan.
"We are now in the midst of a national emergency,'' Ridley said in the letter, as first reported by Golf Digest. "The Coronavirus is increasingly impacting lives everywhere, and we have rigorously evaluated how this will affect the Club and its operations. Our focus moving forward must be the health and safety of our exceptional staff, which is the heartbeat of Augusta National.
"Beginning today, we are taking the necessary steps to curtail our operations so, by the end of this week, the Club will be closed until further notice. We intend to maintain our properties with limited personnel on site, and we will support our many other functions by working remotely where possible. But this is about much more than business continuity. This is about our employees, and the foundation of this decision is built-in upon keeping everyone safe while preserving the financial stability of those we care about most.
"We will continuously review this situation and send timely information in order to give clarity and comfort during these unsettling times. While we do not know what the weeks ahead will bring for our world, I know our Club will emerge successfully and stronger than ever because of the support of our members and staff. Please continue to take every precaution to stay healthy, and thank you for your patience and trust as we plan for the realities of this pandemic."
The Masters, which was scheduled for April 9-12, has been put off indefinitely, and the club has not said when it might be targeting a date in 2020.
This was to be the 84th Masters, and of the previous 83, only two -- both in March -- were played outside of April. The tournament has been played continuously ever year dating to 1946, when Herman Keiser won the first Masters played following a three-year break due to World War II.
Tiger Woods tweeted later Monday about the Masters'postponement:
There are a lot more important things in life than a golf tournament right now. We need to be safe, smart and do what is best for ourselves, our loved ones and our community.— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) March 16, 2020
The PGA of America also announced that it is canceling the PGA Professional Championship, scheduled for April 26-29 in Austin, Texas. The top 20 finishers in that tournament qualify for the PGA Championship, which is still scheduled for May 14-17 at Harding Park in San Francisco.
If played as scheduled, the top 20 from the 2019 PGA professional of the year standings would qualify for the PGA. The PGA of America has yet to announce a decision on the PGA Championship.