Now on the Tee… The Masters
Hello friends, welcome to Augusta, Georgia.
It is time for what Golf considers its most holy of celebrations. The Masters.
What better way to kick off spring than one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments? The Masters embodies what golf stands for: tradition, nature, sportsmanship, rich old white men in cult-like clubs who wear special clothes in secluded headquarters located in the forest of the deep South. All the things we love about the game.
My earliest memory of The Masters was the immortal chip-in by Tiger Woods in 2005. I would have been a month shy of turning 10 years old, right about the time that my fascination with golf rivaled that of my love for baseball. In addition to players like Jesper Parnevik, a short game magician, this moment fueled a particular love of the craft of the short game. I honestly think my chipping and pitching was better when I was 11.
The thing about short game that I love is that it is the one part of golf where getting handsy is a good thing. There is a swashbuckling like deftness one must have to be able to hit flops, bump-n-runs, sand shots, and anything you can conjure up. Imagination is almost as important as feel.
The Masters is such a unique sporting event. The tournament feels so intimate. Part of this comes from the required silence in golf, which makes the droves of golf pilgrims in the Promised Land of Golf melt away into the background, leaving you and the course. Most of the time, you will find yourself looking at the course and not the golf being played upon it.
Augusta National Golf Club is a dedication of love, honoring what golf is: A celebration of nature, of the Earth, the soil, [Insert Deity]’s gift to the human race. There are grounds crew who pick out little blades of grass and dirt from every bunker after the grass around them is mowed. Superfluous? Maybe, but love makes us do crazy things.
One of the coolest things about The Masters is the trophy. The British Open has the Claret Jug, the PGA Championship has the yawn i dunno i forget who cares — but The Masters has the Green Jacket.
Now, this is awesome for a lot of personal reasons: Green is my favorite color, the jacket is pretty damn slick, and it’s a piece of clothing that literally says I am better than you at golf and I make tons of money playing it HA. It is also the only prize in golf that it is the only one in existence. There is only one Adam Scott 2013 Masters “trophy”. If you win any other major (or tournament for that matter) you get to keep it for a bit then you have to give it back and you get a copy. And you can’t even wear the US Open trophy. Except maybe as a hat?
Some of the mystique and glamour of the Green Jacket is lost when you find out that every member of Augusta National gets a jacket. Which, for most of the club’s existence meant that getting a Green Jacket wasn’t because you were good at golf, but because you were good at being rich — and white but aaaannnyy way. This means Condoleezza Rice has a Green Jacket, presumably for covering up 9/11.
Besides the tournament itself, The Masters also includes great events like the Par 3 Contest. Yes, Augusta National has a par-three course and it is nicest and most beautiful one ever created. I mean, have you ever heard of a nice par three course? The course at Augusta was designed with greens that fed toward the hole, making hole-in-ones more abundant, which is great when watching the contest the Wednesday before the tournament. It does make you wonder about the other 51 weeks of the year, when the course is basically an ego boost for the members of Augusta National.
A newer event that was devised by the club and the USGA is the National Drive-Chip-Putt Championship. Kids from all over the country compete in local, mid-regional, and regional qualifiers. The event focuses on the three major parts of one’s golf game: Driving accuracy/distance, chipping, and putting ability.
Ages of competitors range from 7–15 years old. The National Finals are held at Augusta National the Sunday before the tournament. What an experience for these kids, that range from those who remind me of myself at that age(golf is fun, but I am also a child who likes to do 8,000 other things)to the Drained-of-all-Happiness ones (Golf is not fun, you are my retirement plan, kid, SO YOU BETTER NOT SCREW THIS UP). A lot of the time, the ones who still like playing golf end up winning, which is nice, but it also means the Retirement Plan kids may end up at an orphanage.
I would have loved to been able to compete in the Drive-Chip-Putt when I was a kid. Maybe some day I will have a child who will want to willingly compete in the Drive-Chip-Putt, because they like golf and not because I force them. (I have a deep dislike of parents who force their kids into playing sports as a means to live vicariously through their children who, at a young age, have surpassed their parent’s ability to play a sport already)
The Masters is definitely my favorite major. Besides the weird culty vibe, it encompasses everything I love about golf. Plus, it’s the last major that isn’t being broadcasted by Fox Joe Buck needs to sick what he is best at(Read: mediocre at), baseball.
My pick for this year’s tournament? I like Justin Thomas, Henrik Stenson, and Ryan Moore as my dark horse.