April, Augusta and me

By Aaron M Smith

As I was driving home from work today it hit me – is there a better week in sports than the one we are in right now? Think about it – Opening Day with the greatest rivalry in sports, College basketball will name both a King and a Queen, the Frozen Four, and all week – the Masters. Can it get any better?

Yes, here it is – my annual article all about the Masters. The name says it all  – the Masters – the best of the best. The tournament is by invitation only and if the Augusta National Golf Club doesn’t think you make the cut ( excuse the pun), well you better find somewhere else to play for the week.  For the first week of April, Augusta, Georgia is the focus of the golf world.  The Magnolias and Azaleas are in full bloom, and 97 golfers will  fight for the elusive green jacket.

No other course is more recognized than Augusta National Golf Club. Ask even the most marginal of golf fans and they will tell which course has names such as Amen Corner, Hogan’s Bridge and the Eisenhower Tree.  Most fans know that Augusta National built in 1934, is the brainchild of golf great Bobby Jones and course architect Alister MacKenzie. But did you know that while most golf courses in the world have been rated by the USGA – Augusta National stands alone? Only Augusta National has its own rating and has refused to have its course rated by the USGA.

So what will the 201o Masters bring us? In 2009, we watched Angel Cabrera hold of Kenny Perry to win his first green jacket on the second playoff hole. In 2008, it was South African, Trevor Immelmann. This year’s Masters marks the return of Tiger Woods to the PGA.  Tiger who has already won 4 green jackets will be looking for his fifth – one shy of the Jack Nicklaus’s record of six Masters championships. Controversy aside, here is hoping that Tiger has a smooth return to the PGA.

When you hear Jim Nantz on CBS with the famous phrase, ” The Masters:  A time honored tradition” – they aren’t kidding.  Every year the week starts off with an honorary tee shot. In past years it has been Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer. In 2010 Jack Nicklaus takes a turn. No other tournament has a Champions Dinner – hosted by the prior year’s Masters champion.  A Par 3 tournament signals the end of the festivities and the beginning of tournament play.

For years I couldn’t wait for opening day.To me, opening day meant the return of spring and the end of winter.  But now? It is the beginning of the Masters. And this is the only time you will hear me say it – I hope it rains this weekend. But until then – enjoy the week – it is the best sports has to offer.

3 Responses to "April, Augusta and me"

  1. Wally   April 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    Spring? We got 3 inches of snow last night. Can’t wait to move to Houston!

    Smitty, have you been to the Masters? It’s on my bucket list of things to do before I kick. The few people I know who’ve been there just rave about it, as you would expect.

    If Tiger walks out there and contends in this tournament … his first tournament in how many months … that would be truly amazing. I think he’ll be several shots off the pace on Sunday … just don’t see how he can just suddenly appear at the Masters after what he’s been through and perform at an elite level for 4 rounds. But if anyone can do it, he’s probably the guy.

  2. Smitty   April 6, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    Wally, I have not had the good fortunate to go to the Masters. I have tried the last couple of years to get in the drawing for practice round tickets, but have been unsuccessful to date. I will certainly be throwing my name in the hat yet again this year. If I get them – you in?

    It is my understanding that it is pretty much impossible to get tickets for the actual rounds. In other words – you better know somebody who knows somebody. But it is on my Bucket List as well – to walk the grounds of Augusta.

    As for the 2010 Masters and Tiger Woods. I think it is asking way too much for Tiger to be in contention after a 4 or 5 month layoff. Especially when a guy like Ernie Els who has been playing lights out the last month. I fully expect El to be in contention come Sunday. But Wally – like you said – if anyone can do it, Tiger can.

  3. Casey   April 8, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Read the rules shankapatomus.

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