Sunday starts Masters Tournament week in Augusta, Ga., and the Masters truly starts golf for those of us in the northern states.
If the itch to bring the clubs from the basement hasn’t already set in, then the weekend watching things unfold from Augusta on television will surely send golfers in Michigan off to the basement or storage area to bring out the clubs.
If it seems like the last Masters was just played, well that’s because it was just played. The 2020 tournament postponed by the pandemic was played in the fall, Dustin Johnson dominated and then demonstrated he does have emotions. It was good stuff.
MASTERS BACK IN APRIL WHERE IT BELONGS
There’s sure to be more emotion, more good stuff this week as the Masters returns to the springtime, where it seems to belong while we all are hoping to get our lives back to where they seem to belong in the ever-persistent pandemic world.
Get your shots. Watch the Masters. Take your shots. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
Golf once it got started last summer boomed in rounds played, which was a remarkable thing. The pandemic turned positive for at least that part of golf – rounds played. Early spring indications are that rounds are up again despite our spring weather challenges. The telecast of the Masters will surely boot it up to a next level.
There’s just something special about the Masters, or maybe it’s just so many special things.
I’ve been there a bunch of times as a working journalist over the years, and I played the course once. Call me if you want a hole-by-hole trip down memory lane but be prepared for a long discussion. Hey, that place is not easy.
THEY CALLED IT WORK
The Masters tournament for years was work for me, as in some long days writing golf at the best place I could imagine for golf. Thus it wasn’t real hard work, just time consuming in a place where there is always so much to consume.
I’ll share one story today, to get you fired up for this weekend:
It was a rain-delayed first round played on Friday morning 15 years ago in 2003 and I was walking up No. 1 on the right side of the first large bunker when we heard “fore” yelled from the tee by more than one person. People around me ducked, covered their heads, the normal reaction to a fore at a professional golf tournament. I did it, too, and then wham, a ball hit me in the side of my left thigh, on the fly and it hurt.
I acted like it didn’t. I resisted the impulse to sit down, rub it and have an emotional outburst of some sort.
I did stand for a minute to make sure my leg was still in working order, and pro golfer Justin Leonard and his caddie came walking toward me and the ball, which had ricocheted off my leg into the bunker.
GRAND RAPIDS TOOK THE SHOT
Leonard, who I had met a few times previously including during his amateur days at the Western Amateur and his pro days at the Buick Open, saw it was me and asked if I had been the maker of his fortunate bounce.
“Sorry I hit you, but you kept me from going in the trees, Grand Rapids,” he remarked. “How are things up there? You want a signed glove or something?”
I declined the autograph thing as a professional on the job and told him to have a good round.
“It didn’t hit me that hard,” I said.
It had nailed me. That afternoon I was limping. My leg turned into a rainbow of ugly purple and yellow and I had to take pain killers and hold my leg straight to write later that evening.
SAW A LEFTY WIN, NOT THAT ONE
I limped the rest of the tournament, but still made my walking rounds to Amen Corner and my favorite viewing spots each day. Justin missed the cut. He didn’t have somebody get in the way of enough of his wild shots that week. Canada’s Mike Weir won and became the trivia answer to who was the first lefty to win the Masters. Try it on your friends: Most will answer Phil.
By the way, I eventually recovered though the bruising held on for a while.
I figure I would take another shot in the leg like that to get to be at Augusta this week.
I suggest you put it on the old bucket list. Get in the ticket lottery when that returns to normal. It’s the best week in golf. Don’t bother trying to argue with me. I can take any shot you might fire my way.
Photo of Mike Weir accepting the green jacket from Tiger Woods is from The Sporting News