It’s a great time to love sports. The period of time from mid-March until late April offers sports fans everywhere a whole gaggle (that’s right) of things to be excited about. Here is just a sample of the host of things taking place during that time frame in 2012: NBA trade deadline, NCAA Tournament, MLB Opening week, Champions League soccer quarterfinals (both legs), start of the NHL Playoffs, and start of the NBA Playoffs. Without fail, during this 6-7 week stretch, I consume more sports now than during any other period of time throughout the entire year.
Even with all these going on, there is one more event which might just stand out as my favorite. And though this is hard for me to say, because it’s one of those “Which child do you love the most”-type statements, that first week of April (usually), when the Masters comes on, it gets closer and closer to being my run-away favorite.
I’m not the world’s biggest golf fan. Despite being a pretty miserable golfer (my swing is mirrored after Sir Charles Barkley), I do enjoy playing. While I am out there hacking the ball around the course I am usually able to muster up a few decent shots and (as any golfer knows) that keeps me coming back. But as far as my interest in professional golf goes, it usually consists of, “Tiger or Phil leading? No? Alright, I am going to lie here on the couch and fall asleep.” However, with the Masters it is just different.
I don’t know if it is the tradition and the history of the tournament, or just the sheer beauty of Augusta National Golf Club, but there is something so sacred about the Masters that it draws in even the most casual of fans.
There are so many iconic moments in the sport of golf that have happened at the Masters which has helped establish it as the greatest of the Major tournaments. In my lifetime I have seen both Tiger and Phil win their first Majors at the Masters. Tiger in ’97 when he obliterated the field by 12 strokes, and Phil in ’04 when he had the incredible showdown with Ernie Ells on the back nine. With all the history of the sport that has taken place on that course, listening to players talk about what it is like “playing at the Masters” is always one of my favorite parts. Playing golf at Augusta has to feel like what I imagine it would feel like going to war on the beaches of Normandy. Just thinking about everything that has happened there before is enough to make even the calmest of nerves unravel.
And then there is Augusta itself. It is one of the most beautiful courses in the world. The setting. The scenery. The perfect landscaping. They call the second shot of 11, all of 12, and the tee shot of 13, Amen corner because if you get through that stretch without dropping drastically in the standings, you are thankful to whatever god you believe in, but also because it leaves you saying “Amen” in awe of its picturesque perfection. It makes me think of a box jellyfish. How could something so beautiful be so dangerous? But that danger lies in the beauty.
There are dozens of reasons to be excited about this upcoming stretch of sports, but if you are one of those sports fans who typically prefer the fast action, highly physical sports, I challenge you to set aside some time this weekend and watch a few holes. I promise you, there are few moments in sports more climactic than watching those last few groups come through the back nine on Sunday at Augusta. When one swing can change the entire tournament, it makes every shot that much more intense and important.
Just ask Rory.