They say that April showers bring May flowers. But to me, April only means one thing: The Masters. Even though the schedule for men’s golf is pretty much year-long, The Masters is the first of the four major tournaments of the season, and despite being the “newest” (it started in 1934), it is the most prestigious golf event of the year.
For brief background, golf was my first true love and one of the biggest parts of my identity. I like to joke that the on-campus free golf course is the biggest reason I came to Wooster. Of course, it wasn’t my number one reason, but it was definitely the second. So, I can’t be blamed for feverishly counting the days until I can turn on the television and hear the sweet sound of Jim Nantz’s “Hello, friends” accompanied by the trademark piano theme.
One of the best parts of The Masters is the tradition — both old and new. On the Tuesday preceding the four-day tournament, the previous Masters’ winner hosts a “Champions’ Dinner” where former champions are invited to a dinner featuring food that the host chooses from their home region.
The following day, the Par 3 course hosts an informal contest where players can use their children as caddies which has led to infinite cute and historical moments, like when the grandson of legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus hit a hole-in-one in front of his speechless grandfather.
Most importantly, however, is the prize given to the winner. Instead of glitzy rings or a Lord Stanley-esque trophy, the deserved champion is given a green suit jacket which is put on by the previous year’s winner. This green jacket is a widely recognized symbol for the game of golf as a whole, and contains so much history that the golfer wearing it knows they have truly “made it big time.”
Due to its location in the deep south and reputation for exclusivity, Augusta National Golf Club has made judgments and decisions in the past that have been acknowledged as very wrong. While this history cannot be eliminated, Augusta National has adopted some new traditions that show its new approach of openness and forward thinking.
The club has hosted the “Drive, Chip and Putt” youth golf skills competition since 2014 to promote golf among kids. This year, they hosted the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur, where non-professional women golfers competed in the 54-hole event which was won by Wake Forest’s Jennifer Kupcho. Women’s golf does not receive nearly the same amount of attention as men’s golf, so this step by Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley is one in the right direction.
The Masters’ coverage starts this Thursday with a camera panorama down the Magnolia Lane entryway, and you already know I’ve cleared my Sunday afternoon schedule to sit in front of my television until that green jacket is awarded.
So, who are the favorites? Jordan Spieth is a perennial Masters beast who hasn’t finished worse than 11th in the five tournaments he’s played in. Rory McIlroy is having a hot start to 2019, finishing no worse than sixth and picking up career win number 24 at The Players.
But watch out for my hero and man-crush Tiger Woods — the greatest golfer to grace the planet — who will be looking for his fifth Masters win and surely will not go down without a fight in his traditional Sunday red.
To quote Nantz once again, “The Masters is a tradition unlike any other.” I can still remember watching my first Masters in 2009 when Angel Cabrera put on the jacket.
Even though there are several important golf-centered events throughout the year, young golfers from around the world idolize that green jacket and what it represents for the game. I know many of you may not look forward to watching golf on the T.V., but if there is any tournament that is worth tuning into, my friends, it’s The Masters.
Samuel Casey, a News Editor for the Voice, can be reached for comment at SCasey21@wooster.edu.