sport news No traffic or azaleas but it's still Augusta... 2020 Masters is different but ...

Monday at the Masters is usually the most manic day of all. By 7am, the lines of traffic down Washington Road leading to Augusta National are literally a mile long.

It is estimated that twice as many patrons attend the practice rounds than the tournament itself. They come from all over the world, having been drawn out of a ballot, and everyone wants to be there when the gates open at 8am.

At 7am yesterday, the cars in the vicinity of the golf club could have been counted on two hands. This was rush hour, Augusta style.

November's autumn colours are present at 2020's Masters tournament for the first time

November's autumn colours are present at 2020's Masters tournament for the first time

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Patrons are absent from this year's Augusta too, making for a unique edition of the tournament

Patrons are absent from this year's Augusta too, making for a unique edition of the tournament 

Down Washington Road, there were no ‘welcome patrons’ signs. No ‘tickets needed’ banners. No motorhome belonging to John Daly outside Hooters. A small Masters logo above a traffic light was the only visible sign that one of the great sporting occasions is now just a matter of hours away.

The sense of disorientation is only accentuated when wandering round the course. Nothing can prepare you for walking down the beautiful 10th hole and having it to yourself. The incredible sense of privilege is mixed with guilt for all those who have had to miss out.

At first glance, Augusta National in November is very much like it is in April. The temperature is in the mid-20s and perfect for golf. Emerald green remains the overwhelmingly predominant shade. 

Usually Monday at the Masters sees bumper crowds but players had the course to themselves

Usually Monday at the Masters sees bumper crowds but players had the course to themselves

But look a little closer and the colours of autumn can be seen in the trees that line some of the stately holes on the fabled back nine.

There are no azaleas or dogwoods in bloom, of course. Not even the green jackets can fool nature to that extent. There’s also a lot more grass, if that doesn’t sound too daft.

The fairways are not trimmed to within an inch of their lives. There’s proper rough on many of the holes. Is this a bit of Bryson-proofing on the club’s part? Maybe.

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But there is also the fact the course is just emerging from lying dormant in summer, when the Bermuda grass is burned away and the fairways look the colour of the desert. 

A rye grass overseed restores its verdant splendour but the extra layer at present might be covering

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