I’ll get straight to the point: put simply, the Masters Tournament is the greatest event in all of sport. No other competition in the world features such timeless traditions, high drama and majestic scenery as the Masters.
Augusta National’s verdant landscape provides the stage for much more than a golf tournament; the Masters is a four-day celebration of all that’s good and right with the world. “A tradition unlike any other” indeed.
Masters week is here and with it comes a kid-on-Christmas Eve level of anticipation. Several questions will be answered as the week unfolds. Who will don the green jacket Sunday evening? Will Phil contend? Can Bubba repeat? What time is it socially acceptable to have that first beer on the course?
Those who’ve been privileged to attend the Masters Tournament have their own favorite things about it. Magnolia Lane, the par-3 contest and caddies’ white coveralls to name a few. Of course, for many, catching the Masters on television courtesy of the phenomenal CBS broadcast is the preferred option. Understanding that this space is too small to rightfully honor this remarkable event, here are SEC Banter’s favorite things about the Masters:
No. 10: Yummy sandwiches for $1.50. Some patrons swear by the pimento cheese, others by the egg salad. Regardless of your favorite (the chicken salad is solid, too), those little white-bread sandwiches for a buck-fifty are sure hit the spot.
No. 9: The great Dan Jenkins, covering his 63rd consecutive Masters this year, once noted that even if Augusta National’s azaleas aren’t in bloom, the sundresses are. Think Dan Jenkins knows a thing or two about the Tournament?
No. 8: Manners and common courtesy are in short supply these days. Not at the Masters. You don’t sit in another patron’s seat, you don’t run and you say “please” and “thank you” to everyone, especially to those working the Tournament. Simple. Respectful. Augusta.
No. 7: The gift shops. The urge to empty your wallet for darn near anything bearing the Augusta National logo is nearly as irresistible as the white-bread sammies.
No. 6: As Ben Franklin wisely remarked, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” I suspect Mr. Franklin would say cold draft beer at the Masters for $3 is proof that God loves us and wants us to be really happy.
No. 5: The old-fashioned scoreboards scattered throughout the National. If a player gets hot late Sunday afternoon, patrons’ reactions are priceless as scores are manually posted; the kind of Masters moments that happen only at Augusta.
No. 4: Engaging in SEC football banter with fellow patrons. Football at the Masters, you ask? Absolutely. It’s spring, so everyone’s friendly and optimistic about their team’s prospects. LSU fans are easy to spot; they’re loud and tipsy. It’s even easier to spot Bama fans; they’re loud, tipsy and cocky. And Georgia fans just know this is their year and are eager to talk about it.
No. 3: Friendly wagers with patrons at the 16th green. Sit by the pond just left of the green and you can’t see the competitor’s tee shots. But the scoreboard lists their names and the tradition is to bet on which player’s shot will land closest to the pin. I lost too many $1 bets to a guy named Mike from Saginaw, Mich., last year. Good stuff.
No. 2: People watching. You’ve got old-timers proudly attending their 50th Masters, first-timers visibly in awe of their surroundings, and everyone in between — all having the time of their lives.
No. 1: For all its charm and excitement in person, come Sunday nothing beats taking in the Masters on TV. CBS artfully brings us the beauty of Augusta National and the drama of the Masters. I can’t wait for Jim Nantz to say hello to me at the top of the broadcast as I settle in for my favorite Sunday of the year.
It’s Masters week. An event that transcends sports. You don’t have to be a golf fan. You don’t even have to like sports. An appreciation for something special is all that’s required. I hope you enjoy it.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.