Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2011 10:38 Thursday, 17 March 2011 10:36
The Masters Golf Tournament will soon be here. Lisa Vlooswyk summarizes neatly what makes the first week in Augusta so unique.
Annually, eager golf fans, especially those from snow laden parts of Canada, anxiously await the broadcast of the first and arguably the most revered major of the year. The lush emerald rolling hills, perfectly manicured lightening fast greens, brilliantly colored azaleas and miraculous shots made by the best players in the world have even the most casual golf fan mesmerized. Golfers will skip work or call in sick and be glued to their television sets all weekend.What is it about the Masters that is so appealing? After much thought I have come to the conclusion that the Masters, Augusta National and the rules that dictate both, create a sort of Utopia to which the average golf fan can aspire.
Can you imagine if everyday life mirrored that of Augusta National?
First of all, there is a rule that no cell phones or cameras are allowed on tournament days. Now this rule exists at many other golf tournaments, sporting events and concerts, however at Augusta National they mean business. If caught with either, you will promptly be removed by security and your badge taken away for life.
That’s brilliant! Just imagine a world where you are not being constantly interrupted by cell phones ringing. It is almost like being on holidays without access to phones, text messaging, or the internet. You can simply enjoy watching the wonderful game of golf.
The Masters is also a throwback to our youth with real consequences for your actions. As an adult we can weasel or manipulate our way out of situations when we bend the rules.
Whether it is getting out of a traffic ticket, being seated for dinner reservations that you are extremely late for, or bringing a camera to a concert. We might get a warning or a slight slap on the wrist. At Augusta National it is Big Brother meets your mother!
Another great rule is that “ungentlemanly” conduct will not be tolerated and offenders are removed from the grounds immediately and credentials stripped for life.
This includes running anywhere on the grounds, swearing, spitting or general horse play. How great would it be to have the authority to boot out the drunk annoying guy at the lounge, the person dropping F-bombs every other word in front of your child at a hockey game or the individual spilling beer on you after every good play in the football game?
Yet another fabulous rule, every patron is permitted to bring a chair to the tournament. You may place your chair anywhere on the grounds and it will remain untouched for the duration of the day, regardless if you are seated there or want to go check out the tournament action elsewhere.
Imagine a world where you were never in fear of having your personal property stolen. You could leave your brand new car parked downtown overnight, leave your leather jacket on your seat during intermission at a hockey game or even leave your purse in the shopping cart without the fear of sticky fingers.
The tradition of the Masters and Augusta National are as appealing to everyday life as the rules. Consider the Champions Dinner, the tradition started by Ben Hogan in 1952. On the Tuesday night of Masters Week all of the winners of previous Masters break bread together with the menu dictated by the current champion.
Spreads have included Sushi and Porterhouse Steak (Tiger Woods 2002), Cheeseburgers (Woods 1998), Chicken Cacciatore (Fred Couples 1993), Haggis, Mashed Potatoes and Turnips (Sandy Lyle 1989) and Canadian Mike Weir’s Canuck fare in 2004 of Elk, Wild Boar and Arctic Char.
Can you imagine inviting all of the teams that previously won your beer league hockey playoffs or weekend softball championships to dine with you on a meal of your choice, all paid for by the league organizer? Hello shucked oysters, Alberta Beef, whipped potatoes, and molten lava chocolate cake all washed down with good old Molson Canadian. Yum!
It is not just the Masters Champions that traditionally reap rewards in the food department. The everyday patron is also treated well. At Augusta National they believe everything should be affordable (other than the merchandise).
Food and beverages are at depression era pricing. Sandwiches range from $1.50 to $2.50, a beer $2.00 and chips $0.75. Try to get those prices at your next Canucks or Flames game. You’d be laughed out of the arena. (ed. These prices are from 2006).
In that same tradition, ticket prices (if you can get them) are the most reasonable in all professional sports. $31 for Monday and Tuesday Practice rounds, $36 for Wednesday and a Thursday through Sunday tournament badge is only $175 (which works out to $43.75 a day). The face value of a Super Bowl 39 ticket was $500 for one day.
Another great tradition is that the winner of the US Amateur is invited to play at the Masters. Just think, that would be like you winning your Club Championship and getting a birth in the Canadian Open. You, reigning Champion Jim Furyk and Tiger could tee it up together at Angus Glen in July.
Finally, the age old tradition of the illusive Green Jacket. Since 1949, the winner of the Masters tournament was awarded a single breasted, single vent “Masters Green” jacket with an Augusta National Golf Club logo on the left chest pocket and on the brass buttons. The defending champion slips the new threads on the winner each year.
Hmm…a green jacket you say…well maybe some traditions are best left to be celebrated only at the Masters!
Lisa is the 5-Time Canadian Long Drive Champion for Women and holds the Canadian Women’s Record at 350 yards 2 feet 2 inches. Lisa has written fo Inside Golf for the past six years. Lisa can be reached through her website at www.lisalongball.com