John Renslow: This Masters certain to be ‘a tournament like no other’ | TheUnion.com
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John Renslow: This Masters certain to be ‘a tournament like no other’

Each blade of grass is perfect position, and might have a name or a number. It seems the only colors in production are green and white. There are no stains, no spots, no errors.

Nothing is left to chance and everything is under tight control.

The greens are built with a high-tech infrastructure that allows for changes in drainage and temperature and a special irrigation system is equipped with heating elements to help the azaleas bloom.



Once a year, nearly every eye in the golf world is focused on the place. The Augusta National Golf Club has hosted the Masters Golf Tournament since 1934. The Masters is arguably the most popular golf tournament (one of the four so-called “majors”) among the fans and players and Augusta National is likely the most mysterious, if not notorious golf clubs.

The members are all very rich, many among the globe’s wealthiest people. Membership is strictly by invitation; there is no application process. Amid much criticism of exclusive and discriminatory admissions, Augusta accepted its first black member in 1990.




There are no female members. This caused quite a stir in 2002 when a woman, Martha Burk, then chair of the Washington-based National Council of Women’s Organizations, and Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson became widely known for a disagreement about admission of female members. Burk contended that hosting the Masters Tournament at a male-only club, constituted sexism. Johnson maintained the issue had to do with the rights of any private club.

Yet, the Masters and the golf course remain extremely popular. Tournament-round tickets are virtually unavailable to the public (it would take years to move up on the waiting list) and tickets for practice rounds are sold for hundreds of dollars a piece. Ironically, during the tournament, hot dogs are $2, beers are $2 and just $1 for a soda (compare this to Kings games).

Possibly the greatest golf tournament in the world, at a historic place, in a controlled atmosphere and not a stranger to controversy.

Enter Tiger Woods.

As we all know Mr. Woods, golf’s best player, has been embarrassed in the headlines for several months. A public apology to his family, friends, and associates regarding his “transgressions” was aired in February.

Tiger had implied that he might not play this year, but now, the four-time Masters winner has decided his return to the game will take place in two weeks at Augusta. It is an understandable choice.

The officials at the Masters can mitigate the press and keep things down to a dull roar. Attendees are generally a high-end group with an understanding of protocol and a sense of decorum.

No one is condoning his behavior off the course, but on the course he is still the best.

Even though we may not look at him the same way, and he will never be able to separate himself from the news of these last six months, his entry changes the event and perhaps validates the tournament, if not the tour.

It is projected that television ratings will rival the Super Bowl. So, no matter what we think of Tiger as a man, he is among a few special athletes who transcend their sport and everyone will be watching.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at jrenslow@pga.com.


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