Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why I love the Masters


Tomorrow, instead of focusing on school, I will be on my computer with a pair of headphones on, minimized window and all, watching one of the most historic events in sports.

The Masters.

It is where legends are made. It is the un-official start to the PGA tour season (no offense to the "Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya-Cancun", but I bet nobody reading this will be able to answer who won that tournament. If you can, I don't know whether you're a hero or a loser.) It is where someone can come out of nowhere and make a name for themselves (think Zach Johnson in 2007), or legends continue their dominance (think Tiger Woods, and choose four random numbers to represent a year...you'll probably get one where he won.)

The tradition of the tournament is breathe taking. For one, look at the caddies; the white jump suits? The lack of sponsorship -- one pet peeve of mine is how networks try to find any excuse to put a companies name on it (worst example: overtime on Hockey Night in Canada being brought to you by Viagra).

Or what about the fact that cell phones aren't allowed on the course? Can you even begin to fathom how difficult that would be in modern society, where all of our information and news comes from social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter? Unbelievable.

It is the only major that has never moved to another location, always being played at Augusta. The course has never changed, as the hole location stays the same, the fan areas remain intact, and the scoreboards are still adjusted by hand.

I love it.

Green jackets and Amen Corner, the memories that have stemmed from Augusta National are bountiful is so many ways. As young as I am, the moments that I have experienced on Sundays cannot be explained in words.

Screw it, I'll give it a shot.

I will start with a few specific reasons on why this tournament means so much to me...

  • Jim Nantz voice -- Whether you like it or not, the moments that we have enjoyed as spectators are more than likely voiced by the 51 year old. He makes $4 million a year from CBS, so he better be good.

  • "Get in the hole!" -- No matter how far the tee is from the green, there is always the clown who screams this annoying line. And no matter who I'm watching it with, I always yell "That's what she said!".

  • That awkward moment where the previous winner hands the champion the green jacket -- People always mention how happy the winner looks, but does anybody care about the guy who helps don the ageless blazer? Think about it, how does he feel after failing to repeat, especially if he came really close?

  • Never ending replays of classic moments -- Over/Under the amount of times we hear "IN YOUR LIFE HAVE YOU SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT" or "maybe...YES SIR"? A few hundred or so...

  • David Feherty -- I hate the guy, but the little snappy remarks about other golfers are always entertaining. I have always wondered if Nick Faldo, after he shoots his regular 85 on Thursday and Friday, will knock Feherty the fuck out. We can only hope.

  • The amount of camera time Tiger gets -- My first Tiger mention of the article, I've had this argument with people all the time, whether or not he deserves all the camera time. Think about this: would you really watch the Masters, or golf in general, if Tiger wasn't playing? Seriously, you might say that Lefty and Kim would keep you interested, but you wouldn't have even thought about it if Woods didn't get your attention more than a decade ago. Shit, they named the freakin' video game after him!

  • The "I could have made that shot" moment -- It happens every 20 minutes. That putt from less than 6 feet away, the one that barely lips out, the one that makes you roll your eyes and put your face into your palms. If your watching with buddies, there is always the guy that utters the phrase "Man, how could he have missed that? I thought these guys were professionals, even I could have made that shot!". If you find yourself in that situation where someone says it, tell that son of a bitch that he couldn't make a tap in if you gave him a mulligan.

  • Golfers who smoke -- Whenever the "Is golf a sport?" debate comes up, the fact that some golfers smoke while they play always hurts the case. And I agree: if you have to smoke while you play an 18 hole, four hour game, you have a serious problem. I have never smoked a cigarette in my life, and I don't plan on doing so either, but I have no problem with people who do. But if you can't make it through a round without hacking a dart on national television, something is wrong.

  • Man boobs -- Frank Costanza could have made a killing selling Manssiere's if he had tickets to Augusta. Honestly, the man-boobs in golf, especially today with shirts being made of tight Under Armour like fabric, is unbelievable. And people wonder why golfers are considered athletes...

The Masters is perfect. The course, the tournament, the crowd, the set-up -- nothing in sports can compare.

The pressure that players feel when trying to move up in the leaderboard is something that we cannot come close to understanding. How many of you are betting money on the tourney? Have you done it in the past? Do you remember when you had your assigned winner go into the final round either on top or near the leaderboard, and you spent the next eight hours sitting on your couch screaming at the TV every time he missed a putt? How jacked were you when he made that clutch birdie?

Best example: in 2004, when Phil Mickelson won his first Masters, my dad had all of his picks at the top: Mickelson, Ernie Els, K.J. Choi, Fred Couples, Chris DiMarco, Vijay Singh. Picking Lefty to remain the last one standing, my father joined him in the air as he made that final putt, clinching not only his first major, but a few hundred bucks for Papa Crow. Ever since then, he has held a special spot in our hearts, as he left us with a special wad of cash in our wallets.

I texted my buddy Pierce, "In one paragraph, describe what the Masters means to you?"

This was his response:

"Well, it is the epitome of golf. It always seems like the sun is shining at Augusta: the fairways and greens are luscious, the best players in the world gather to play for the green jacket, and the Masters is a true test from Amen Corner to the 18th. If you win at Augusta, you'll forever go down in history."

Truer words have never been spoken.

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