In the past 24 hours, social media has flooded with conversation about the effects the virus is going to have on Augusta.
But preparations this time around are also focused on a virus born halfway around the world in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.
The COVID-19 virus has begun to get locals concerned.
There is obviously worry regarding the novel coronavirus and those who have been killed by the fast spreading virus. With the Masters being one of the most international crowds this side of the United Nations, there is good reason to be concerned.
Around the globe, health officials are nervous about the masses rubbing shoulders at any large gathering right now.
Facebook cancelled their global marketing summit scheduled for this Mach and recently announced it was cancelling their F8 conference scheduled for May in San Jose, Texas. The company noting the “need to prioritize the health and safety of our developer partners, employees and everyone who helps put F8 on.”
There will no doubt be less patrons from the far flung corners of the world as it stands now, and although the Augusta National keeps info sewed up tight, rest assured there is considerable energy being expended on contingency plans-as only Augusta National can.
In the absence of any real official conversation or directives from the powers that be, ideas floated by some close to the tournament industry have ranged from a spectatorless tournament, to one that is postponed (or cancelled) altogether. While the odds of these two scenarios are very low, it is surreal to be having the conversation in the first place.
Hopefully this year’s tournament is nowhere near this doomsday scenario. But even still, there’s an outside chance that some percentage of fans will take precautions and skip the tournament altogether.
Homeowners who rent their houses out at Masters using a professional company to handle their rentals are contractually protected. The contracts make clear the fees are paid regardless of any “act of God,” which could alter the patron’s plans.
In fact, most Master’s housing companies have received the second and final payments from 2020 renters. Even if their house sits empty, homeowners will be able to vacation knowing they’re still getting paid.
Individuals who operate on handshake deals may have a little harder time if the demand plunges as the tournament date moves closer.
As far as brokered ticket prices go, in a practice exclusive to Augusta National, the tickets to the Masters Golf Tournament are priced well below market value. A ticket you can buy directly from the National for an average of $93.75 per day will cost you twenty five times that amount on the secondary market, if you can find a deal that good.
Most brokers hold onto their tickets until the last minute, hoping to squeeze every ounce of value they can out of them. One school of thought is they will be forced to make a decision this year whether to sell earlier and lower, or wait and let it play out as usual.
There will be a lot of commentary on this subject in the coming weeks. At this point all we can do is wish for the best.
Photos: Joe White