The Masters: Special, Indeed

Posted: April 6, 2011 in golf, sports, The Masters
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Augusta's "Amen Corner"
The Masters and Augusta National are special.  You don’t even have to include the word “golf” to get people’s attention.  They are special for many of the right reasons and for some of the bad.  They are about beauty, grace, tradition and modern technology.  They also represent golf wearing its most arrogant, elitist and prejudiced face.  They have been around for 77 years, but they show few signs of aging.  In the ultra-competitive world of big-time sports entertainment, golf ranks miles and miles below football, baseball, basketball and auto racing – except for The Masters and Augusta National.
A typical bucket list for even the casula sports fan would include going to a Super Bowl, a World Series, the Indy 500 and The Masters.  Augusta National is golf’s Wrigley Field and Fenway Park; golf’s Lambeau Field and Notre Dame Stadium; golf’s Brickyard and Daytona.  Masters tickets remain one of the most difficult – maybe the most difficult – in all of sports to get. All of entertainment, in fact.
To the casual eye, Augusta National has hardly changed in appearance.  The trees are bigger on Magnolia Lane and the clubhouse has been enlarged, but the course itself remains magnificently groomed; sheets of rolling green carpet adorned with an array of breath-taking flowers that always seem to have bloomed to perfection during the night before.  In reality, the course has changed an incredible amount – longer…much longer, with a 21st century infrastructure.
Many people aren’t aware that Augusta National Golf Club is nothing more than a private club. An all-male club that’s members must be invited to apply for membership and then voted in. Oh yeah, if the bottom line of  your financial portfolio doesn’t consist of  seven or more zeros on the end, forget about it.
The Masters is at its simplest a club invitational. It isn’t run by the PGA Tour. Or the PGA of America. Or the United States Golf Association. Or the Royal and Ancient golf association. The club’s golf committee decides the rules and makes all decisions when questions arise. CBS-TV has broadcast the Masters since the 1950s on a series of one-year contracts. All announcers come with the approval of the club. There are no commercial signs on the property. Ham and egg salad sandwiches go for a buck and a half.
At Augusta National during the Masters, time does, indeed, seem to stand still.
From such a private and somewhat humble beginning in a small southern town on the Georgia side of the Georgia-South Carolina line, the Masters has gained global sports recognition matched only by Wimbledon in tennis and the World Cup in soccer.
The 75th Masters is this week. (The tournament wasn’t played in 1943-44-45 because of World War II..) Memories of  Sarazen, Nelson, Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Nicklaus, Player, Ballesteros, Faldo, Tiger and Mickelson almost seem to blend.
Special, indeed.
  1. Wyman Stewart says:

    Never thought about it, but the Masters and all it represents, may be why I have never been a golf fan. The Masters represents the blue-print of golf as I knew it growing up. Played by the rich, in rich private clubs, which only the approved rich elite could join. I watched Palmer and Nicklaus from time to time over the years, but always considered golf a phony sport. Seemed to me golfers earned huge sums of money, while being praised for raising money for charities, despite really just showing up to earn money. Since they had to be college graduates to be pros, they were well-educated, well-trained, smooth talking, business people, paying lip-service to a public that was expected to adore, praise, and accept them as wonderful human beings.

    I am sure many fans, professional golfers, and sports reporters would say I am wrong. Still, that is the image golf painted for me and its fans. It was never a game a kid could play, unless you came from the right family. Yes, I am laughing somewhat at myself, because it is good to examine why you like and dislike stuff. Doesn’t matter whether the reasons are valid for the larger public. They are vaild for me, the individual. I would love to read what others say about how the Masters and golf influenced your life. Bet someone out there was inspired to succeed in business, so one day he could join an exclusive country club and play golf. One man’s negative is another man’s positive. Long live golf? Long live the Masters?

    God has a strange sense of humor. As punishment, I now live in one of the world’s golf capitals, Jacksonville. Maybe THE golf capital, unless that is Augusta National Country Club.

  2. lammatlarge says:

    Your photo has been removed. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    • Sonny Shank says:

      While some may think Golf is elitist and in some ways it can be, but the fact is – any one can get a club and a ball, and go hit it … and play golf. Some of the professionals, past and present came from very humble beginnings and persevered because of the love of the game – which has nothing to do with the dollars, and the business end of any large scale spectacle. The professional golf scene is just a very very VERY small part of what golf is and what has kept the game very much alive for over 500 years … a ball … a stick and the mental & physical effort to do better … in any kind of weather … with friends … or alone … man against himself, against nature …against others … Golf Rocks. The chances that I’ll get to the Masters are slim, but if a person wants something bad enough … they can do it, so I’m not bitter about it, after all I just had some good clean fun, hitting balls with my boy out of the snow in our yard. Thanks David.
      Never belittle a Shot down the middle.

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