Chip Shots

A Tradition Unlike Any Other

I’m sure everyone remembers the excitement you experienced going to sleep on Christmas Eve. You knew you were likely to get something good Christmas morning but you really didn’t know what it would be. Well, that is exactly how I feel in anticipation of the 2018 Masters.

It goes without saying the Masters is unlike any other golf tournament. In fact, it is unlike any other sporting event. There are three times the number of patrons on practice days than there are for the actual competition. That alone puts the Masters in a league by itself.

In the history of golf, there are only five men who have won all four Majors. This year three players have a chance to join that exclusive fivesome of Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods as winners of the Career Grand Slam. Jack and Tiger have won all four majors three times.

Rory McIlroy is only missing a Green Jacket to join that exclusive club. Phil Mickelson needs a US Open win at Shinnecock while Jordan Spieth is looking to win a PGA Championship to complete his “Slam.”

Fun Masters Fact #1: The Master’s winner gets to take the Green Jacket home but only for one year. After that, the jacket stays at Augusta National. Win it more than once, the same jacket is used. Tiger has won the Masters four times, two shy of Nicklaus who has six.

Fun Masters Fact #2: This year’s field is the smallest in 20 years, which will make it easier to make the cut. There are only 87 players in the field (compared to 156 in a normal PGA Tour event). Low 50 and ties plus anyone within 10 shots of the lead get to play the weekend.

Golf fans young and old believe Jack Nicklaus’s win in 1986 was the greatest Masters ever. However, on Sunday afternoon if defending champion, Sergio Garcia, slips the jacket on Tiger Woods, Jack’s ‘86 win will definitely drop to second place.

The excitement level in Augusta is amazing. The new “young guns” on the tour have put a welcome spark into the game, but Tiger takes it to a new level. Love him or hate him, everyone has an eye on Tiger and what he is doing and what is happening in his life. The demands for my radio coverage doubles or triples when Tiger is playing. Just imagine, if Tiger were in the hunt going into the weekend . . . I might just be on the air for 48 hours and boy, would I love that.

By the way, television really does not do the course justice. The two things that do not come across are how hilly the terrain is and how beautiful a place it is. There could very well be better courses in the world, but I have never witnessed one with such breathtaking beauty.

A few more Fun Masters Facts:

• It’s been highly publicized that the patrons can just plunk their chair down beside any green and it will remain there and be untouched by others. That’s true and seemingly unique to the Masters.
• Sandwiches are still $1.50 and they all come in a Masters green sandwich bag.
• Running is not tolerated.
• The course is literally litter free.
• Absolutely no cell phones allowed on the property.
• The merchandise building is a sight to behold. The amount spent by the average patron is a staggering $1000 for all kinds of souvenirs and gear. If you’re lucky enough to attend, you’ll have plenty of “friends” who want anything with a Master’s logo.

I was lucky enough to be there in 1986 for Jack’s big win at age 46. Now 30 plus years later, will I be part of something greater? Is a Tiger win possible? I’d say there is at least an outside chance.

Wednesday night will be like Christmas Eve. I know I am going to get a present. I just don’t know how great that present will be.