Masters -- now, it's spring - 04/08/14
I love the Masters golf tournament. I've been to the World Series, the NBA finals, the Rose Bowl, and various NFL games, but nothing is like going to the Masters -- or watching on TV, for that matter.
For me, the Masters is spring. The NCAA Final Four tells me winter is coming to an end, but the Masters tells me the sun will shine again, the temperature will rise for good and the flowers will bloom. Literally, in the case of the azaleas that come out (almost always) in sync with the tournament in Augusta.
It also honors tradition. How can you avoid thinking about Jack Nicklaus winning six of them -- his last at the age of 46? Or Arnie and his army taking the course by storm, winning four times with a swing that always seemed a little out of control. Tiger in 2005, chipping off the green on 16 and watching his ball hesitate for what seemed like forever... before dropping in the hold for a birdie. And then there's the shot by Phil Mickelson behind a tree in the pine needles on number 13 in 2010. (By the way, he missed that eagle putt. But the birdie kept him going.)
That's another thing. Augusta is the only pro course where I know almost all the holes by their numbers, some even by their names. I've watched the best players heading into Amen Corner, hitting into the "postage stamp size green" on number 12. I've seen them hit the ball on the wrong side of the fairway on 13 so they won't be able to get home in two on the iconic par five. And I've cheered on the players to "skip it" across the lake on 16 on practice day (Wednesday) and booed them with everyone else in good humor as the ball bounces several times and then disappears into the water short of the green. I've sat in the stands on number 8 and watched a player take a wedge out of his bag to play a ball just off the green and, with everyone else who'd been sitting there for an hour, nod knowingly when the perfectly hit ball rolled off the green on the other side. (We could have told him, on these greens, you should have used a putter.)
Yes, the Masters is something special. It's finally spring.