There are many sporting events I would like to attend in person. The Super Bowl, The Final Four, the Olympics and an event that happened this past weekend.
Traditionally, the Masters golf tournament is held in April, thanks to COVID-19, it got pushed back to November this year.
Growing up that was usually seen as the first rite of spring. Snow was usually on the ground the first week of April. If the Masters was on, you knew it had an expiration date.
On top of that, with my father’s passion for the game of golf, which became passed down to me, the weekend became must-watch TV.
Unlike the other three golf majors – the U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship – which bounced from course to course over the years, the Masters was always at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia.
Thanks to that, in a way the viewer became just as familiar with the course as the golfer playing them. At least the last 10 holes, since that’s what the television viewer was only seen before the Internet came into our lives and tournament organizers allowed viewers to see the first seven or eight holes.
How the 11th Hole was a par four, but it was a longer hole than sometimes the 13th or 15th hole, which played as par fives? How the 12th hole, at less than 160 yards, could case these professionals so much angst? How if you didn’t birdie the eighth hole, in some years one would lose shots? Where the pros had to play certain shots, especially on 10, 13 and 16? How the 13th and 15th holes offered risk/reward for the pros, thanks to water in front of the green and trouble in the back?
It also produced unexpected winners and high drama. To this day, I still remember the seven-year-old me watching Jack Nicklaus win his sixth Green Jacket at the age of 46 in 1986; how Larry Mize holed his chip off the 11th green to derail one of Greg Norman’s best chances the following year. Then, in 1997 when a 21-year-old Tiger Woods entered the landscape and dominated the course in a way no one in my lifetime had seen before.
It was the one tournament any male which had taken the game of golf up, would have to love won. Growing up, I don’t know how many times, I was putting on the practice green, and telling myself, this putt will be to win the Masters.
Over the years, there have been some events corresponding to the tournament I’ve disagreed with, namely, its stance on allowing women and African Americans to become members, but, then you remember white Southerners run the course, and you’re not surprised. In my mind, you almost block out the politics for the one week a year, the tournament is held.
The 2020 event was like any other sporting event this year – slim to zero fans. Yet, it was on and yet, add another year I’ll wish I could see it in person.
Jason Schulte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.