Masters going to two-tee start to accommodate shorter days

Due to the lack of daylight during what will be a first Masters Tournament in November, the event will utilize a two-tee start in threesomes with morning and afternoon waves for the first two rounds, Nov. 12-13.

Augusta National also announced Tuesday that the annual Par-3 Contest, which is played on club's adjacent Par-3 Course on the Wednesday of tournament week, has been canceled this year.

Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will again serve as honorary starters on Nov. 12.

A two-tee start is standard practice at PGA Tour events with large fields, but the Masters has an invitational field that is usually fewer than 100 players. Players typically start in threesomes off the first tee with the first times beginning around 8 a.m. and stretching until 2 p.m.

That won't be possible with a return to Eastern Standard Time and approximately two hours less daylight each day.

Sunrise is scheduled for just prior to 7 a.m. each day with sunset around 5:30 p.m.

This year's field is set at 96 players, which will likely mean eight groups of three will go off the first and 10th tees in both the morning and afternoon. Players will be assigned and morning/afternoon tee time for each of the first two rounds closer to the tournament. The hope is to have a traditional one-tee, twosome start for Saturday's third round after the cut is made to the top 50 players and ties.

There will be an earlier finish and again a two-tee start on Sunday with a finish scheduled for around 3 p.m.

The club announced that ESPN will be televising the first two rounds beginning at 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, with CBS going from 1 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

While starting an early-morning round off August's No. 10 tee and having to play the Amen Corner holes to start the round might not be ideal, it should be noted that the club's nines were reversed for the very first Masters in 1934 before switching to the current arrangement a year later.

The Par-3 Contest began in 1960 and has been canceled just one previous time, in 2017, which was because of weather.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Masters was not played in April for the first time since 1945 and was postponed to Nov. 12-15. Only twice has the event been played outside of April, and both times it was in March.