April 9, 2015.
The azaleas will be in full bloom, Augusta Vice-Chairman Joe T. Ford will be thanking sponsors AT&T, IBM and Mercedes-Benz and Jim Nantz will welcome us all inside Butler Cabin with his signature “Hello Friends” greeting.
It’s the Masters, and it’s almost here.
While it’s easy to wax poetic about Bobby Jones’ lasting contribution to the game of golf, the romanticism of the tournament gets to be a little much at times. Don’t get us wrong – we’re as excited for the Masters as anyone. But sometimes the love-fest is overkill.
So with four weeks to go until Jack, Arnie and Gary hit the ceremonial first tee shot, here’s a look at the four things we can’t wait for at The Masters.
1. The Ceremonial Tee Shot
This year has us more excited then usual for the ceremonial tee shots of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Why? Well, it has a lot to do with Arnie actually. The King dislocated his shoulder last December in a fall, and had a pacemaker put in last August. Since 2007, Palmer, 85, has been part of the start to the Masters, hitting an opening tee shot. The four time green jacket winner vows to be back in time.
“I’m looking forward to being out on that tee even if I fan it.”
We know you’ll be out there Arnie.
2. The Par 3 Contest Curse
Whoever wins the Par 3 contest will be the last guy we put our money on to win The Masters.
The par 3 contest was first introduced in 1960, won that year by Sam Snead. Since then, it has traditionally been played on the Wednesday before the tournament starts. It’s a nine-hole course, with a par of 27, and measures 1,060 yards (970 m) in length. The contest is great fun for golfers and fans (err patrons) alike. Many of the pros bring their kids along to caddie for them and walk the course. It makes for some great laughs.
The crazy statistic though, and why whoever wins will be the last golfer we pick, is that no par 3 contest winner has ever won the Masters in the same year. Will the curse be broken this year? Eh, don’t bet on it.
3. Silly Traditions
Pick one. The caddies wearing white jumpsuits and green hats. The fans being referred to as “patrons.” Or, how about getting kicked out of Augusta if you’re running or using electronic devices?
Part of the aurora surrounding the Masters is certainly tradition, but some of these quirks seem somewhat odd. Here’s a couple more: 1.) Do not refer to the front nine or the back nine. Do refer to the first nine or second nine. 2) Do not under any circumstances hint, imply or infer that these great players are competing for prize money. Do bring up as often as possible how important the principles of amateurism are to the masters as exemplified by Bob Jones.
All of this sounds a little too buttoned-up for some, including us. But hey, tradition is tradition.
4. What Kind Of History Will Be Made?
As for the actual golf itself, there’s several opportunities for many of the world’s best to make history in April. Here’s a few of the key story-lines worth watching:
- Rory McIlroy going for the career Grand Slam
- Bubba Watson going for his third green jacket in four years, only been done once before (Nicklaus)
- Phil Mickelson playing for his fourth green jacket
There will be plenty of opportunities down the road to dissect each one of these story-lines ad nauseum, but for now these are three of the big ones to keep an eye on.
What has you revved up for the 79th edition of the Masters Tournament? Give us your countdown by uploading a video, or by submitting a comment below.