The Masters tournament is right around the corner, and when Jim Nantz of CBS welcomes us to Augusta National with his signature “Hello, friends” opening remark, he’ll undoubtedly refer to the Masters as “a tradition unlike any other.”
Odds are not as high that Nantz will label the Masters as “spring break for adults,” but if he did, he’d be right on.
Think about it. Like spring break, the Masters has abundant, warm sunshine. The scent of sunscreen wafts through the air. The beer flows like wine, and it’s socially acceptable to down it the moment you walk through the gates.
What else characterizes spring break? Why, pretty girls, of course, and Augusta National delivers in that department as well. This is because attending the Masters is an expensive endeavor, and the universal truth holds that wherever exorbitant sums of money are expended, highly attractive women are in attendance.
The only spring break hallmark missing from the Masters is the rythmic breaking of saltwater on sand. But, this year, Augusta National has a plan to remedy that absence and ensure the “spring break for adults” experience is complete.
The storied club announced recently that it will recreate the warm emerald waters and white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico in a new “Bobby Jones Beach” area, just off the clubhouse near the famous oak tree.
Folks can take a dip in the seawater, float leisurely on inflatable rafts, and enjoy the sand in between their toes — all within a Corona Light’s throw of the first tee.
At this point in the column, anyone remotely familiar with the Masters and SEC Banter’s humor knows that I jest. All kidding aside, I’ve said it before and will say it again: The Masters Tournament is the greatest event in sports. Period.
No other sporting event has so many timeless traditions. The champions dinner, the Par 3 tournament, the crow’s nest, the roars on the back nine, those tasty pimento cheese sandwiches.
For players, the Sunday pressure at Augusta is enormous, and many have buckled beneath it. They vie for the prestigious green jacket, perhaps the most valuable article of clothing in the world other than what Kate Middleton is wearing this very moment.
For those attending the tournament (they’re called “patrons,” not fans), it is nothing short of a communal religious experience. The rare occasion when thousands of people, total strangers, are courteous and polite to each other — a collective realization that they’re somewhere special.
The grounds of Augusta National are famously breathtaking. The verdant expanse of pristine turf, the flash-white sand of the bunkers, the towering Georgia pines whispering the song of the South, and of course, the brilliant azaleas that herald spring’s arrival.
Against this serene backdrop unfolds a fierce competition, not just for the coveted green jacket, but for a place in
Masters lore. A place in a fabled history that most professional golfers long for more than any other major tournament.
The Masters, the greatest event in sports. I hope you enjoy it as much as I will.
P.S. If you’re fortunate enough to attend the tournament, please stop by and say hello. I’ll be basking on the sand shirtless and frolicking in the warm Gulf waters at the new Bobby Jones Beach. See you there!
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Follow him on Twitter @SECbanter or contact him at SECbanter@hotmail.com.