I know few golfers who are immune. Not only is The Masters the first (men’s) major championship of the season it also signifies the start of the “real” golf season. Not the snowbird season or the the life of golf luxury led by those who live full-time in southern locales, but the time when acceptable golf weather blesses those in the upper half of North America.
You only need to look to mediums like Twitter to see the emotional tie many have with this week. My timeline has been filled with Masters references for a few days and with Monday’s arrival, ramped up to an unbelievable degree as people began to arrive in Augusta, Georgia.
A year ago today I was on a journey to Augusta, with a stopover at Pinehurst. Talk about golf heaven and one hell of an opening act. I was pretty much foaming at the mouth by the time I got my first sight of the ANGC practice area after getting through the gates. To make it better, who was the first player I spotted? None other than 4-time Green Jacket winner Tiger Woods hitting wedge shots under the watchful eye of Sean Foley. Perfect.
Minutes later, to no surprise, I was filling my arms and emptying my wallet in the gift shop. I was not alone. It is one of the most popular places all week and you rarely see anybody hesitating about prices or how much they are spending. They just head for the checkout with a smile.
Of course the fever does not just take place at the golfing shrine. Plenty of people have Masters viewing parties (with attempts at making Pimento Cheese sandwiches included) and take it to another level, even choosing children’s names based on the major. Team Canada member Augusta James of Bath, Ontario is the ultimate example. Her parents, both lovers of the game, knew exactly what a baby born during Masters week had to be named. Who knew that 20 years later (Happy Birthday Gus) she’s be one of the countries top amateurs.
Fans…errr..patrons aside we are not the only ones looking at this week with special attention. The 94 invitees this week know exactly what an honour it is to play in The Masters. The thought of a win and the value of a lifetime pass to it’s hallowed grounds cannot be understated.
This goes so far that you have players working on special clubs to take on the MacKenzie/Jones masterpiece.
On Monday the United States Golf Association conforming clubs list included a new stick from Callaway Golf made especially for former Masters Champion and Augusta fave Phil Mickelson. He’s counting on Phrankenwood, a specially designed club, to bring help him win his fourth green jacket. How often do you hear of a pro having a club especially designed for a single championship? It only bolsters what we know of players’ opinions about how much they want to have the Green Jacket presented to them on a Sunday in April.
Of course the Masters also means a lot to the town which hosts it. Once a year the 116th largest city in America is on the minds of many around the world. Despite a significant military and corporate presence in town, it is as the home of the Augusta National Golf Club that this place is best known and they embrace it. As they should. See the video below as proof.
For golfers of all levels this is indeed an extraordinary week. No matter where you might tee it up, be it the local muni or a country club, The Masters unites us all.
Enjoy it. I certainly will.