John Renslow: A course unlike any other
Hallowed ground. Tennis has Wimbledon. Car racing has the Indianapolis 500. Team sports revere venues such as baseball’s Fenway Park or basketball’s Madison Square Garden.
It can’t be forced or manufactured or coerced, and how they become sacred cannot be planned.
Every baseball fan has seen the highlight of Carlton Fisk hopping sideways from the batter’s box toward first base, waving his arms at the Green Monster, in the attempt to will an airborne ball to stay in fair territory.
Martina Navritalova, Roger Federer, Chris Evert, Rafael Nadal, the greats play an unscripted part in taking a piece of real estate and creating magic on the grass courts.
We use their names to describe everyday things, because their success on a certain field is iconic. Who hasn’t heard a fast and furious driver referred to as Mario Andretti, reminiscent of his exploits at the Brickyard? It’s usually announced from the passenger seat after some white-knuckle maneuvers.“Nice driving Mario!”
When Bobby Jones first saw this piece of real estate he said that it was perfect for a golf course, presumably already laid out in his mind. The place was Augusta, Georgia, and the year was 1930.
Today, it is known as the Master’s Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club.
If it was one or the other, Jones or Augusta, Jones on another property or the golf course designed by someone named Smith, we would likely drive on by. Yet, Jones playing in the first annual event at his home course attracted the best players from 38 states and Canada.
At the same time, if Jones had not created a course for the ages, the tournament would have faded away when Jones’ playing days were over.
However, nearly a hundred years later, many Tour players, as well as writers and amateur golfers, cast their vote for Augusta National and the Master’s as THE tournament to watch or play.
Most of us can describe any hole on the back-nine. We have watched or seen historic footage of Jack Nicklaus making six birdies to win a record sixth championship at the age of 46. A ball hanging on the edge of the hole had all of us inching toward the television as Tiger’s chip shot made a final revolution and fell in the hole.
The pandemic has disrupted many things and the Master’s Tournament did not escape an eraser mark on last year’s calendar. Traditionally, the event is scheduled for the first week of April, and has been for decades. But, nationwide precautionary measures delayed the tournament until November.
Fortunately, as 2021 provides a new perspective, Augusta National and the Master’s Tournament are back in their familiar time slot. In fact, a limited number of fans will be allowed to witness this year’s chapter in person.
The television coverage is second to none and these are the best players from around the globe. It’s a golf cathedral, revered, respected and enjoyed. Our view is from afar, but the aura and mystique will somehow make their way into our living rooms starting next Thursday.
John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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