Sports: The Masters

Amen Corner got its name from the way Arnold Palmer played the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes in the 1958 Masters. Uploaded by phillivingston.com.

When the trees are just beginning to foliate their bare branches in North Carolina, the azaleas are already in bloom in Georgia. I know, because the cameras show them to me in all their spring-is-here glory surrounding Amen Corner at the Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia .

Oh yes, and there’s a pretty good golf tournament happening there, too. Usually held the second week of April, the Masters has a long and (mostly) proud history. Augusta National didn’t admit black members before 1990 and still doesn’t admit women as members. But this post isn’t about Augusta National, but the wonderful tournament it hosts each year.

The Masters has been contested every year since 1934, when golfing legend Bobby Jones felt the sport needed a new and exclusive tournament. Jack Nicklaus has won it more than any other golfer (six victories), with Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods next with four victories.

Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images, uploaded by z.about.com.

Augusta National has kept The Masters unique by placing more emphasis on tradition than any other tournament. These traditions include the awarding of a green jacket to the winner, proffering a lifetime invitation to tourney winners, the hosting of a champions’ dinner to which only past winners are invited (and the current winner selects the menu), and caddies being required to wear white jumpsuits and white tennis shoes.

The tournament broadcast also has strict limitations. The Masters doesn’t have a rough surrounding the fairways, but rather “a second cut.” There are fewer commercial breaks, no blimps are allowed, and all announcers must maintain proper decorum. Gary McCord found out the hard way, when he was banned for saying, “They don’t cut the greens here at Augusta, they use bikini wax,” and saying the lumpy course looked like “body bags.”

From the ceremonial first shot by one of golf’s legends (Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in 2010) to the drama of Amen Corner to the presentation of the green jacket in the Eisenhower Cabin, the Masters proves that it truly is a tradition like no other.

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