Like any tradition, The Masters Tournament is looked forward to every year, has a past full of memories, and has a future full of promise. But to golf fanatics and avid sports fans, The Masters is “a tradition unlike any other.”
The Masters Tournament is held annually at the same venue, Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia. Golfing legend Bobby Jones helped create the course and established the tournament in 1934. In the time since, it has created many major champions in the game of golf, including this year’s champion, Sergio Garcia of Spain.
“It’s a great tournament, even for people who aren’t avid golfers, to look back upon great champions as well as the history that has yet to be made,” said John Abbott, junior and member of the men’s golf team at Western New England University.
The first of four major championships in professional golf, The Masters kicks off the golf season every year by reminding fans about the roots of the game. Abbott explained that every year, some of golf’s greatest legends hit the ceremonial first tee shots: Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer.
But with the passing of Palmer in September at the age of 87, the game would have to go on without him. The King was gone but would not be forgotten.
In the opening ceremony on Thursday, April 6, Player and Nicklaus took their shots off the first tee. When it came to Palmer’s turn, they both pointed to the sky, sure that The King was taking his shot from the heavens.
It’s remembering these legends and what they’ve accomplished that often inspires the younger generation of athletes. In its 83 years of existence, The Masters has come to mean a lot, especially to those who play golf.
“To me, as a competitive golfer, The Masters is the most important tournament to watch every year,” said men’s golf captain and senior at Western New England, Matt Fontaine. “It seems as if almost every year, history is made at this event, and that’s must-see TV in my opinion.”
Even as an event steeped in so much history, Fontaine is correct when he says that something memorable happens every year, keeping the event fresh and exciting. This year, it was “the duel” between Garcia and England’s Justin Rose, who separated themselves from the rest of the field halfway through the back nine holes.
Garcia has been on the professional tour for nearly twenty years, and after years of heartbreaking finishes, finally secured a major championship win. Though it was a duel to the finish, taking Garcia and Rose into a sudden death playoff, the turning point may have come when the Spaniard nearly holed out for albatross on 15.
Fontaine remembered a similar Masters moment from the 2005 tournament when Tiger Woods defeated Chris DiMarco in a playoff to win his fourth green jacket. Fontaine says it’s moments like these which make The Masters.
“The chip he made on 16 is to this day one of the best golf shots in history, and I specifically remember watching this with my dad,” Fontaine said, recalling how the moment with Woods affected him personally.
Garcia went on to make eagle on 15, and both men would head into the final hole tied. On 18, Rose and Garcia both missed crucial putts which could have secured their places in history, but it would have to wait.
Returning to 18 for the sudden death playoff, Garcia proved he wasn’t going to let history pass him by again. He finished the hole a new Masters champion.
Last year’s champion, Danny Willett of England was on hand to adorn Garcia with his own green jacket, the traditional and coveted prize of The Masters.
“There is a consolation that Sergio has won,” Rose said, as reported by The Guardian. “He’s felt like I’ve felt many, many times, so it’s hard not to feel good for him,” the runner-up concluded.
Augusta National is just a golf course, like any other course in the game; it’s beautiful, but it can be punishing. And yet that is not entirely true because there is no place like Augusta National in the springtime, with the blooming azaleas and plush greens.
And it could be said that the Masters Tournament is just like any other golf tournament. But some would disagree, and with good reason.
“To myself and other like-minded golf fans, The Masters is not just a tournament, it is a holiday,” said Golden Bear golfer and junior Mike Metcalf.
From Palmer to Nicklaus to Woods and this year Garcia, The Masters Tournament at Augusta National has made champions and has made history. And as long as there is a game of golf, there will be a Masters.
“In the last few years, I made peace with the course and accepted what Augusta gives and takes,” the 2017 Masters Champion said according to The Guardian, “And because of that, I am able to stand here today.”
It is where the past and present collide, where history is remembered, and where history is made. It is as they say, “a tradition unlike any other.”
It is The Masters.
This article was originally published in The Westerner on April 20, 2017
Featured photo source: CNN