Masters State of Mind
First thing’s first, click play on this
and keep it on the background. You gotta get yourself in a Masters state of mind, baby!
If you’ve been watching any of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, you’ve undoubtedly heard the glorious voice of Jim Nantz describing the Masters as “A tradition unlike any other.” Sidenote, if I didn’t suck at explaining things, I really should have been a sports announcer. Nantz gets to watch the Final Four, and then goes straight to Augusta? Not a bad deal. And oh man, as long as I’m going down the Jim Nantz hole, turns out there’s a ton of juicy drama behind his voice. He recently went through a divorce in which he cried on the stand, got married to his girlfriend, who was born 3 years before Nantz got married the first time, on the 7th hole at Pebble Beach and now has a child with her! Luckily, this is America and as long as you entertain us, nobody cares if you marry someone 20 years younger. In fact, it’s probably expected.
Even though he may have lied to his wife, Nantz sure as hell isn’t lying about the Masters traditions. The Masters is the first major of the year, the weather is warming up and the sun is starting to peak out from the winter clouds. People’s spirits are up, and we’re ready to watch the Masters! Here’s a list of things that you need to know in order to get the most out of the best sporting event on the planet.
The Masters has a thing for Amateurs
Ever since the lifelong amateur Bobby Jones started the Masters, amateurs have been an integral part of the tournament. As of two years ago when they added an invitation for the Asian Amateur champ, there are 6 spots per year reserved for amateurs. The other invitations include the winner and runner up for the US Am, the Pub links champion, the British Am champion and the Mid Am champion. All these invitations are taken away if the player decides turns pro. Besides inviting these amateurs to play, the low am who makes the cut gets interviewed — before the actual winner — in the basement of Butler Cabin after the end of the tournament. Talk about treatment.
All past champions get to play
You win the Masters, you can play until you’re in the ground. Well, they might tell you nicely that it would be better if you didn’t play, but they’re not going to turn you away completely. This is by far the most lenient policy for past champions. The British Open is pretty good at cutting off people at 65. Still allows for sentimental moments, but doesn’t let them become embarrassing. In reality, most players don’t play past what they’re able. But having that option makes the Masters that much more special. Unfortunately, there aren’t any super old can-barely-walk-up-the-hill-on-18 types of past champions this year that we might have seen in Masters past. But we can still look forward to 20 years in the future when Sandy Lyle still tees it up!
The standard size for pretty much every professional stroke play event is 156 players. But since this is the Masters, they tee up a field of 90-100, depending on how many guys decide to play well enough to get an invitation. And obviously, with all the past champions and amateurs who don’t have a chance of winning, this is the weakest field of any major, but that doesn’t keep it from being the coolest one to win.
The Par 3 Tournament
Pitch and putts aren’t reserved for the high handicappers. Every Wednesday before the competition starts, players play in a makeshift 9 hole par three contest. It’s a laidback competition that usually features groups of friends, and an odd range of caddies including girlfriends friends and even player’s 3 year olds dressed up like like the real deal.
And going back to how well the amateurs are treated, if you’ve won the US Am, you can come back and play in the par 3 contest for the rest of your life. And you can be damn sure that some take advantage of that.
Opening Tee Shots
Old guys with seriously deteriorating joints stumble their way to the first tee in an attempt to hit a drive long enough to get to the fairway. Masters Chairman Billy Payne gets his first of many moments on camera and everyone pats each other on the back for living another year. Serious note though, it’ll be a sad year when Jack, Arnie or Gary Player dies. They’ve been such a part of the Masters and a opening tee shot without one would not be the same. Maybe Payne will pour an Arnold Palmer drink out when Arnie kicks it. Also, how weird is it going to be when Tiger and Phil are the ones hitting the opening tee shot?
In a time where you need to sell your first born to get a sandwich at sporting events, the Masters keeps their prices at way more than reasonable values.
Only thing that could be better is if they had Waffle House stands on the grounds like they do at Braves games.
The Green Jacket
Probably the most iconic trophy in golf ins’t actually a trophy. It’s the green jacket that the Masters champion gets! Congrats, you just won the Masters, here’s an ugly blazer!
Actually, the jacket isn’t the only piece of hardware since there actually is a trophy they get, but it’s equally as bizarre. It’s a replica of the clubhouse on the grounds, Butler Cabin. The winner doesn’t actually get to bring home the jacket though. It stays on Augusta’s grounds and will be used whenever the player comes back and visits the club. And that probably is the best perk of winning, an honorary membership.
The Masters is known for odd awards. Besides the green jacket, the winner also gets a trophy featuring Butler Cabin. No jug, no cup, but a building. Besides that, it offers many consolation prizes to participants with special accomplishments. Low round each day gets a crystal vase. Hole in ones and double eagles (remember Louie?) get a crystal bowl. Normal eagles get crystal goblets and a crystal bowl also goes to the winner of the par 3 contest. Oldest player in the field gets a crystal pill box (this year Tom Watson at 64) and the youngest player gets a crystal shot glass (US Am champ Matt Fitzpatrick at 19).
The Champion’s dinner is the meal during the week where everyone gets together and jerks each other off about how good they are/were at golf. At least that’s what I assume. In reality, the talk there is probably the same as it is on the course, but since it’s behind closed doors, we just have to guess. The other fun aspect about this is that the defending champion gets to pick what everyone has to eat. Check out what everyone picked on this list, which I’m going to trust even though it’s from about.com. Best ones are the dishes native to the winner’s country. Haggis, Wiener schnitzel, Paella, Fish and Chips. Actually, looks like everybody goes for regional fare the first time they win. That means if I win the Masters, everybody’s getting Culver’s the next year.