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It’s Masters week. It’s finally here, and all the talk leading up to this point is slowly quieting. Tiger’s re-emergence and Rory’s steep ascent to the top of the golf world have grabbed headlines lately, but the wait is over. It’s time to see how they perform in the world’s greatest golf tournament. There has been a palpable, and sometimes distracting, Masters presence around TFM headquarters this week. There is undeniable excitement and unbridled anticipation in the hallways. The office TVs are showing Golf Channel coverage, TFM Intern is doing air-swings in the lobby as I type this, and I’ve been putting together a Masters office pool. Shit, our friend Bacon seems to have gotten over Mizzou’s first round tourney exit just a couple weeks ago. Even Allen is getting in the spirit. He’s been wearing his Titleist Pro Tour visor all week, bouncing in and out of each office, and carrying a putter around. The UPS delivery guy almost tripped over a Pro V-1 this morning as he entered the front door. Golf balls are scattered around like an unkempt putting green at your local muni. The Golden Tee machine has been the centerpiece this week too, and the sound of the trackball has just turned into background noise at this point. All of this culminates into what can only be described as the Masters buzz. Although work production may dip some this week, we’re not sorry for it. It’s just in our nature as sporting and golfing fanatics.
The Masters, the first major of the year at the iconic Augusta National Golf Club, is the pinnacle of golf. You can have the U.S. Open. Take the British, as well. And you can tell me all about the tradition of St. Andrews and the game’s inception and Scottish heritage. I’m taking Augusta. And I’m taking the Masters, one thousand times over. Just like the motto bestowed upon this tournament, there is no tradition quite like it. If you are one of the rare, unfortunate penis-wielding souls that doesn’t understand the aura surrounding the Masters, and why it is a must watch, I’m here to teach you.
The mystique that comes with the Masters is much about the grounds of Augusta National. It’s an incredible scene, from the colorful Azaleas to the rich, pristine green of the grass. Upon entering the grounds, you are first greeted with Magnolia Lane. This long driveway leading up to the clubhouse is lined with awesome Magnolia trees and is a slap-in-the-face reminder that you’re on legendary real estate, and you are in for the experience of a lifetime. Aside from the amazing landscaping and flawless course layout, Augusta has a few famous landmarks. Amen Corner is a staple of golf. Anyone who can name the four PGA majors has at least heard about Amen Corner. It’s the moniker given to holes 11, 12 and 13 after being made famous by Herbert Warren Wind in 1958. It’s most notably known for its beauty, relentless nature and separating the contenders from the rest of the field. This is typically the turning point on championship Sunday. Dreams are realized and nightmares become a reality in this short stretch. Perhaps the most iconic image of Augusta is the Ben Hogan Bridge that crosses Rae’s Creek on Golden Bell (hole 12). The walk across this bridge is an experience in and of itself, and capturing the final group’s short jaunt is often a photographer’s big moment. This tournament treats their guests well, too. Once on the grounds, pricing is very reasonable. Masters beer and a pimento cheese sandwich are customary and inexpensive, so partake liberally.
The first tee shot of the tournament is reserved for a legend of the game. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are among the recent ones to hit the Honorary First Tee Shot. Gary Player will join them this year. Then you have the Green Jacket. Save your Happy Gilmore quotes for another time; the Green Jacket means everything to professional golf. In fact, it might be the most coveted championship prize in all of sports, and certainly the most recognizable. After winners earn their jacket, the next stop is Butler Cabin, seemingly taken straight out of a charming Savannah, Georgia movie set. This building on the grounds of Augusta is where a CBS host will conduct the winner’s first post-win interview in a tradition that dates back to 1965. Another custom, in which only former champions look forward to, is the Champions Dinner. This occurs Tuesday evening the week of the tournament. During this dinner of golf’s greatest, the previous year’s Masters winner will choose the menu for all in attendance. This year Charl Schwartzel is serving up chilled seafood and an assortment of cheeses. Nice call, Chuck.
The 2012 Story Line
The biggest news right now surrounding the Masters centers around Tiger. His recent win at the Bayhill Invitational has the sports world buzzing. We all want to know if his porn star-slaying hiatus is behind him for good, and more great golf is ahead. He has turned into such a polarizing character. It seems as if half the world wants to see him fail, take a driver to the head, and maybe even slip and fall into Rae’s Creek. The other half, of which I am proudly a member of, wants to see him back atop this beloved game. He’s our dominant golfer, our American badass. The Masters champion has had a bit of a foreign flavor as of late, and he needs to take it back. Old Glory almost always proudly waves in the Augusta National front lawn, and Tiger triumphantly hoisting her to the top again is something I just need. Will Tiger put an end to it? How about Phil? He seems due. Will Bubba come out of nowhere and take home the Green Jacket? Of course, Rory is the hottest young player going right now. Is he ready to step up and take America’s tournament, or will his Augusta collapse of 2011 continue to plague him?
Damn, I can’t wait to find out.