After cancellation, Carlson and Kim accept invites to Augusta Women’s Amateur in 2021

Vanderbilt golfers Abbey Carlson (‘20) and Auston Kim (‘22) discuss the cancellation of the 2020 Augusta National, and their plans to play at the site of The Masters in 2021.


Auston Kim lines up at putt at the Mason Rudolph Championships on September 21, 2019. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Jaime Perez and Alex Venero

Last January, Vanderbilt golfers Abbey Carlson (‘20) and Auston Kim (‘22) accepted an invitation to play in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. At that point, Carlson was in the middle of her last season of an illustrious four years with the Women’s Golf team, while Kim had followed up an incredible freshman year by dominating the courses as a sophomore.

Given their performances, the invites were absolutely deserved. Still, the two could not contain their excitement—playing at Augusta, the home of The Masters, was an honor of a lifetime. 

“I was so excited. I was in tears when I got my invite in the mail,” Carlson said. 

Kim echoed her teammate’s sentiment, noting that she was excited to play at a legendary course with her former teammate.

In less than three months, the two Commodores would be in Georgia, competing against each other in the second annual Women’s Amateur at Augusta National. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and today, the two teammates are in completely different positions.

On March 12, the NCAA officially canceled its spring championships. A day later, officials at Augusta National let the two Commodores know that the tournament was in jeopardy. 

“We didn’t really know at the time if it was just going to be postponed or canceled completely, because originally they came out and they postponed it,” Carlson said. 

In less than a month, the golfers’ fears were confirmed: the tournament would not be played in 2020.

“Getting that news really made me upset initially because I really wanted to play the tournament, to have that experience,” Kim said.

Auston Kim at the Mason Rudolph Championship. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Despite the decision, both Carlson and Kim understood the reasoning behind it. 

“It also made sense given the circumstances,” Carlson said. “You want the health and safety of all your players, fans and everyone to come first, which is what they had to do.” 

Kim had a similar message: jeopardizing the safety of the community at Augusta was not worth the risk of having the tournament go on.

Although the cancelation of this year’s Women’s Amateur at Augusta National saddened Carlson, it could not compare to having her senior year abruptly come to an end.

“Suddenly I went from having two more months of college golf left to having none left, so that was definitely a really hard thing to swallow, hard to know that the last round I had played representing Vandy was over, so it was definitely harder,” Carlson said. “Augusta was sad, but it wasn’t as heartbreaking as the cancellation of our season.”

Abbey Carlson and Coach Greg Allen pose for a photo with her award at the Mason Rudolph Championship. (Hustler Multimedia/Hunter Long)

Fortunately for both Carlson and Kim, they, along with the rest of the planned 2020 field, have been invited for next year’s event.

Now, the two Commodores have started looking towards Augusta 2021. Kim is in her junior year at Vanderbilt but has chosen to opt-out of her spring season. 

“Opting out of the season was definitely a hard decision to make,” she said. “And I was definitely really upset that I couldn’t go back to school or play, but I am coming back for the spring.” 

Currently, Kim is in Florida taking her classes remotely. She will spend the rest of the semester at home training for Augusta National, before coming back to campus in the spring.

Although Kim feels confident in her decision, she certainly misses being in Nashville. 

“I’ve really realized these past few months, not to get all gushy or anything, but I have to appreciate everything I have, especially small things at school like walking campus from class to class,” she said. “I’ll definitely have a new way of looking at everything, and I won’t complain about anything anymore, because all those little things I complain about are things that I really miss right now.”

Today, Carlson works for Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama after graduating from Vanderbilt in May. She admits that she has not been playing golf recently, but that when the time comes, she will “figure out a plan for getting [her] game back in shape for Augusta.” 

Carlson’s appearance at the event may be her last time competing at that level, as she does not intend to continue playing professionally. 

Despite not pursuing a career in golf, Carlson recognizes the opportunity she has for 2021 is too good to pass up.

 “You don’t turn down an invite from Augusta National,” she said.