When you hear those two words, what thoughts, images or feelings do they stir up in you?
For me, the first major of the year brings with it an anticipation that history is about to be made.
Two years ago I wrote an article called The Mystery, Magic And Mayhem Of The Masters for Inside Golf Magazine to try and articulate what The Masters means to me.
Here’s how I saw it then…
While most people talk about the revered Augusta National in hushed tones because it’s steeped in history, for me Augusta National is just an old private elitist golf club.
St. Andrews has mystery – Augusta just has azaleas. No, for me, the real mystery lies with the master of golf himself – the legendary, Bobby Jones. Bobby Jones isn’t like any other golfer that ever lived.
I have watched all 12 episodes of his “How I Play Golf” series and am still in awe of his fluid swing and uncanny ability to make golf look easy. Oh, did I mention, he was self-taught?
And what’s even more amazing to me is how he dominated a sport, when he hardly devoted any time to it. In just 7 years Bobby Jones:
• Played golf only 3 months a year on average – and only 7 tournaments outside the majors
• Won 13 out of 21 majors he entered
• Won the grand slam
• Got a law degree from Harvard
Oh, I love Jack and Arnie and Ben and so many other legendary golfers, but IMHO Robert Tyre Jones Jr., born on St. Patrick’s Day in 1902 is by far the greatest of them all. Hmmm…do you think it might be the luck of the Irish?
This one is easy. Although some die-hard Augusta fans might not like what I said about their beloved golf club, I bet few of them would argue with me on this one.
There was nothing more magical than watching a 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus take the lead on the 17th hole at Augusta National with that birdie putt, scoring a 30 on the back nine (a tournament record) and finishing with a 65 to win his 6th Masters.
Wow! I have watched replays of that tournament more times than I can remember and it never fails to give me Goosebumps or bring tears to my eyes.
Not a year goes by where the topic of Augusta National not having any women members doesn’t rear its ugly head. 2009 was no different when Cynthia Good, CEO of PINK magazine planned to be at The Masters in April to pick up where activist Martha Burke left off in 2003 – protesting once again the all-male membership of the club.
Although I’m not a fan of Augusta National’s no-women policy, it is a private club and it has the legal right to pick and choose its members. I think the policy makers at Augusta are dinasaurs myself (and we all know what happened to them.
So that was what I wrote back in 2009 and it’s still true for me today. Except I’d like to add one more thing about Augusta that I didn’t know back then. I didn’t know about Freddie Bennet – the legendary August National Caddy Master.
I read about the remarkable man in a book called Freddie & Me by Tripp Bowden. I actually bought the book 2 years ago when I wrote my Masters article, but never got around to reading it until last month. If I had read it in the spring of 2009, I would have included Freddie as part of the Mystery and the Magic.
Author Tripp Bowden who holds the distinction of being the first full-time white caddy in the history of the club, is an excellent story teller. He can make you laugh one minute and cry the next when he write about his mentor who had such a profound impact on his life.
Bennet was a very special person to many who walked the fairways at Augusta – both caddies and players.
Full of ‘Freddie-isms’ like “Don’t ever tell anyone to lay up on the chance of a lifetime”, and “You don’t read Augusta’s greens, man. You remember them. “, the kind hearted and gifted Caddy Master had an uncanny ability to just “know things”.
As I read the book I felt that he and Shivas Irons would have been great friends had they ever met (or maybe they had ;)).
Freddie & Me is a must read if you love The Masters and want a peak behind the scenes at one of the most secretive golf clubs in the world. It’s not only one of my favorite golf books, it’s on my “must read again” list.