The missing Masters week is set to begin, and for those who like their golf mixed with dashes of mythology and pretense, this will be a difficult time. For when pining for the pines and aching for one more tour of Amen Corner, there is no adequate substitute.
The postponement of the Masters because of the coronavirus pandemic is felt particularly keenly here in the tournament’s home state because it has been for decades a particularly vivid example of what you can do horticulturally and culturally in Georgia when money is no object. The Masters is springtime in Georgia, heralding the best season on the calendar with a hushed reverence, golf claps and the occasional roar. You see, they can do golf better on that patch of impossible green just on the proper side of the Georgia-South Carolina line than dare we say anywhere else (take that, Scotland).
The question now is: To get through this one of many voids, how much do we want to root around in the attic of the Masters reliving its past?
Unable to get down Magnolia Lane this spring, how much do you want to devote to trips down Memory Lane? Because there will be a glut of opportunity.
Admittedly, I’ve already begun. Having heard that a person can go to the Masters’ YouTube site and call up the final round of any tournament from the late 1960s forward – and not truly believing such witchcraft possible – I started fiddling with a television that is smarter than I am Sunday morning.
Hey, honey, look here at what Mr.-Can’t-Even-Set-The-Thermostat just called up! Those are the closing holes of the 1972 Masters right there on the big screen. That’s Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, when they were younger and thinner, too. Look, plaid was in fashion. The caddies were all African-American, from the club’s own caddie contingent, as was the requirement then (and would be for another decade).
That’s a reminder, too, of Clifford Roberts, who was still the despotic club chairman then, and the quote forever attributed to him: “As long as I’m alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black.” Didn’t say all the memories were guaranteed to be warm and fuzzy. Some are even contemptible.
In the absence of a Masters this spring, various outlets have sprung to action to compensate (over-compensate?). There may be no event better at celebrating its past than the Masters, where the champions all gather for their own dinner one night and dress apart from the untitled rabble every day. There may be no event more suitable to an enjoyable revisit than this one. If you can watch Barney Fife lose it again and again and it never gets old, who’s to say you can’t watch Bubba Watson defy physics hitting out of the trees on No. 10 more than once? That appetite for any Masters action – even if it’s dated and predictable – will be tested this week.
Those not as technologically adept as yours truly will have plenty of replay options this week on some of the usual channels.
All week there will be highlights from tournaments ranging from 1960 to 2019 – with champions ranging from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods – across CBS, ESPN and the Golf Channel.
Entire final rounds are scheduled from Wednesday to Sunday, starting with the best of them all – Jack Nicklaus winning at 46 in 1986 (3:30 p.m., Wednesday, ESPN).
The other full final rounds (spoiler alert – the endings have been revealed):
2012 – Bubba Watson wins his first, with a trick shot in overtime (2 p.m., Thursday, ESPN).
1997 – Woods laps the field and changes the face of golf (7:30 p.m., Thursday, ESPN).
2013 – C’mon Aussie, Adam Scott triumphs in the rain in a playoff (noon, Friday, ESPN).
2005 – Tune in to watch Woods chip in on No. 16 and then break Chris DiMarco’s heart (6 p.m., Friday, ESPN).
2004 – Mickelson birdies the final hole to win his first major by one and almost leaves the ground on a victory leap (2:30 p.m., Saturday, CBS).
2019 – Woods wins his fifth Masters in defiance of his surgically repaired back, with all kind of watery carnage around him (12:30 p.m., Sunday, CBS).
What a great time it will be to work on your masters in Masters history.
And for those of us who have worked 30-some of these tournaments, there’s nothing better than a failing memory to make these replays seem fresh again.
Seldom one to dabble in such retrospectives – I prefer first runs and real-time drama – I find myself looking at these options like a starving man reading the menu at Ruth’s Chris.
It’s going to be just a little sad just how much of this recycled Masters I’ll be consuming this next week. It is a competitive placebo, but it is all we have right now.
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