Three days after postponing its Masters tournament, Golf Digest has learned that Augusta National Golf Club announced to its members on Monday it is closing down the course amid growing coronavirus concerns.
In a letter to members, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley thanked the club for its steadfastness following Friday's postponement and the difficult decisions that are ahead.
"We are now in the midst of a national emergency. 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," Ridley said in the letter, obtained by Golf Digest.
"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 letter comes a day after the CDC urged a nationwide halt to gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, citing the risk of the coronavirus.
Augusta National historically closes a few weeks after the Masters ends, with the Club opening up again for play in the fall. Though no new date was specified during Friday's postponement, should the Masters ultimately be played in 2020, October to November would theoretically provide a window to conduct the tournament.