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This Masters week with limited patrons brings a sense of hope

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It was a picture-perfect day at Augusta National to welcome back Masters week in April.

Day one of practice rounds is almost in the books as golfers want to take advantage of every hour of daylight.

The course now is a site very different than it was just five months ago in November, starting with the patrons.

“Anytime you’re at the Masters and are able to walk this course, you’re lucky,” said Adam Pfleeger from Charlotte, North Carolina.

After a Masters without patrons, they have returned in smaller numbers. And it was nice to hear cheers again, even if they weren’t as loud as we’re used to.

We didn’t find out just how many patrons were allowed, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was fewer than 10,000 people. But considering it’s more than 350 acres, that’s plenty of space to keep your space.

And with that, a tradition returns to Augusta National. Perhaps this year is the luckiest of all especially when you compare it to 2019.

“All we’ve done is walk through the gate to here, and I’m already overwhelmed,” said William Fuller from Mobile, Alabama.

Oddly enough, it appears social distancing will make this year feel more up close and personal than in years past on a lot of different levels.

“It’s going to be great!” Deb Frederick from New York said. “My friend Steve said, ‘I’ve never parked this close before.’ I’ve been home all alone in upstate New York, and this is thrilling to me.”

MASTERS WEEK COVERAGE

There are also no lines this time and better views of the golfers. The limited number of patrons has its perks for sure, even when accompanied by these signs of the times.

“It’s a terrible pandemic. Terrible disease,” said Frank Harkins from Mobile, Alabama.

But today marks an important chapter in hope. It’s difficult to see smiles under masks, but they’re there.

Spring has always been nature’s promise of rebirth and renewal, and the azaleas have become beautiful ambassadors, their bright colors are almost serving proclamation this pandemic is slowly but surely coming to an end.

“Life still goes on. Glad to see us getting back to normalcy with precautions.... masks, social distancing, vaccines, all that,” Harkins said.

And others see today as an escape.

“All the extracurricular stuff that’s going on because of what’s happening in the world right now, I could choose to pay attention to that today, but I’m not going to,” Max Vannostrand from Charlotte, North Carolina said.

Instead, he and others on these hallowed grounds will stop and appreciate the moment.

“It’s gorgeous. It’s gorgeous, it’s everything I thought it would be,” Frederick said. “It’s a blessing to be here...”

And having an April Masters with some patrons sure is a good sign, that the grass will be greener on the other side of COVID.

“It’s nice to be out and everybody’s so nice and friendly, so hopefully this is a slow return to normal life,” Olivia Smink from North Augusta said.

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