Reflections from the 2016 Masters
I’m tired today and I only watched the Masters. Even as a home viewer (apologies if there is an official term ANGC uses for people like me) I found the back nine completely compelling. It made up for what was, in my opinion a lackluster opening 54 holes. But it is the most anticipated golf tournament on my calendar. My favourite major is the Open Championship but the Masters is the most unique and highly anticipated.
Here are some balanced reflections, notes and observations from this years’ event:
- History and Tradition Matter – Two very unique aspects of the Masters which I love are the Champions Dinner and the Ceremonial Tee Shots on Thursday morning. The Masters, more than any other tournament honours its champions and its history. Watching Tom Watson play his last Masters was special and I was glad CBS made a big deal of it
- Drive, Chip and Putt – Not lost on me is the lead up to the week before the start of Masters week. A new tradition is the Drive, Chip and Putt competition which is co-led by Augusta National, PGA of America and the USGA. I love that Golf Channel makes a big deal of it because it is a big deal. It warrants players and past champions to greet these kids. I love everything about it.
- Danny Willett – A deserving champion. He played the best. Tournaments are 72 holes for a reason and like all major championships tend to be a grueling test of golf. The number 12 player in the world leading up the event, his victory was a surprise to many but not those that know and respect the depth of talent in the game.
- Slow Play – While I repsect it was windy and they are playing for a major championship the time it took these twosomes to complete rounds was abhorrent. Watching players back off time and time again is a bad example to set to the public and junior players. I love Jordan Spieth but he was a repeat offender and I’d like to see the governing bodies demand more from a time perspective.
- Jordan Spieth – The sting of the loss is real, and runs deep and it seems almost cruel he needed to place the green jacket on Danny Willett but he showed incredible class and sportsmanship and that is a lesson juniors and all players can draw from. For a game built on integrity and class, Jordan is well equipped in that department. I suspect he will bounce back well from this.
- Social Media – I love Twitter. It opens up a real-time and global conversation around the game of golf. That approximate 40 minute stretch where Spieth went from 5 up to 4 down was unreal to follow on social media. But, as Adam Fonseca correctly noted, the real winner on Twitter on the weekend was Danny Willett’s brother. Timely and humourous. Check it out. (Adam has a great podcast too, check that out also). Runner up in his entertainment on Twitter is No Laying Up. A great follow.
- Golf Course Expectation – While I love the Azaleas and the incredible lushness of Augusta, I fear it may create unrealistic expectation from members at courses around the world for their Superintendents and grounds crew to replicate such pristine condition. This is problematic in that is simply not realistic, nor is it likely sustainable from an environmental perspective. And it is here where I don’t appreciate the mystique of ANGC. For one week, maybe. But I prefer the more natural beauty from courses like Pebble Beach, or in Canada, Cabot Links.
- Short Game – in closing, for 54 holes Jordan Spieth was spraying the ball around Augusta and drew upon his world class short game to maintain a lead. If I am going to get better I will need to practice this part of the game so in my mind I can say I’m the second best putter on the planet (because seriously, who is going to supplant Jordan from number one putter in the world?)
Happy to debate on this, but I am happy today that the Masters is done for another season. In Ontario, where I live, the official golf season starts this Friday. I for one am ready, inspired by the lessons of the last 8 days at Augusta.
Lastly, and certainly not least, huge congrats to Adam Stanley, freelance golf writer and communications coordinator for the Golf Journalists Association of Canada for winning a spot in the media lottery to play Augusta today. Wow. Good things happen to good people. Can’t wait to hear all about that.