For quite a while, it’s been an enduring rite of spring; The Masters Golf Tournament. There’ve been years where I’ve planned the entire weekend around the television; something I never do for any other event. This year, I’m tuned in as usual, but starting to wonder why.
Jim Nantz’s dulcet tones are starting to grate. Sir Nick Faldo’s cloying prissyness has become a reasonable facsimile for fingernails on chalkboard and the whole thing is starting to feel like an orgy of tradition-abuse.
I value tradition and its role in cultural and social life. But when ‘tradition’ becomes a schtick, you have, well, just what the Masters is now, an endless homage to a pile of tired cliche themes. Bobby Jones, the patriarch of the Masters, is probably turning over in his grave. He was a man who valued understatement and restraint; “his” tournament no longer does.
Going back quite a while, the Masters Committee used to permit only the back-nine of the tournament to be broadcast. It gave the experience a kind of cachet and mystery that was a pleasant counterpoint to the usual US network overkill. No more. We’re wallowing it it now.
I’ve realized another thing about why the Masters maintains its mystique as a stern test of golf; roller-coaster greens and perverted pin placements. Contrary to the “usual” PGA Tour setups, intended to make the pros look as good as possible, the Masters can be set up by sadist; no one will dare to complain (think: Gary McCord).
One rather weird aspect – kind of ironic really – is that green jacket thing. If there’s anything that makes Rickey Fowler look positively restrained, it’s in contrast to that abominable colour.
I think next year it’ll be a good time for me to start another tradition of sorts. Maybe I’ll just go somewhere and actually play some golf.