Master’s week

Published 6:17 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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On Sunday, I took pause in my closet and raked my hand across a row of short sleeve shirts which I had planned to take to Augusta this week.  Everybody, even sportswriters not known for an accent on fashion, want to “look good” at the Masters.

The week began with weather befitting the championship—warm and sunny, ideal conditions for walking the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club in short sleeves. There have been times in the past when Augusta weather would bite, but for the most part you always expect a pleasant week when the tournament takes place the first full week in April.

This week, I am sure there will be ongoing recall of past tournaments as I go about my daily routine, mindful that while it is a downer that the Masters won’t be taking place, that in the bigger picture, a personal inconvenience pales against our greater needs.

I will remember a happier time when walking the grounds at the Augusta National Golf Club made you stop at scenic vantage points and conclude that there could be no prettier place: rolling hills underneath stately pines, a landscape accompanied by incomparable floral majesty.

This remarkable golfing shrine will forever be awe inspiring. Only Pebble Beach, hard by the Pacific Ocean and maybe its sister course, Cypress Point, could rival the majesty that is Augusta.

The wide fairways with bunkers of pristine, white sand offer recurring appeal along with a manicured grass and breathtaking floral settings which make you want to gather up a mound of pine straw for a pillow, lie down and reflect on Masters glory while the whisper of the pines remind you of the good things in life.

For the first time since World War II, the gates will be closed tournament week. The tournament is not being played is a major let down for the sports world, but in addition to there being no competition, the shutdown of the tournament brings about emotionally hurtful side effects. The Masters has always been accompanied by an old home week atmosphere. People gather with their friends for lingering toasts and sanguine and sprightly conversation. One simply cannot get enough of Augusta which segues from its simplicity of place to the grandeur of the championship.

I’ll miss the annual starting of the tournament which began years ago, another of those unique traditions which has made Masters week so especial through the years. Fred McLeod and Jock Hutchinson were the first back in 1963, followed by Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead.  Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were next until Arnold passed away three years ago.

Masters week has been something of a blessing for so many of us for as long as we can remember. Our most fervent prayer is for a world at health risk. Playing the Masters would mean that the important priority has been met.