I look forward to a lot of golf tournaments, and I really enjoy watching the majors. But nothing compares to how I feel about watching the Masters. It’s a rite of spring for me and I don’t feel like my year is off to a proper start if I miss it. The year that Zach Johnson won (2007), the same storm that made Augusta National play so tough blew through Texas on it’s way to Georgia. A lightning strike took out my satellite dish and receiver, so I was without TV during the tournament. Now I get nervous whenever we get a thunderstorm warning the week before the tournament.
I think a lot of the reason I feel the way I do about the Masters is that it’s always played on the same course. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a stunningly beautiful course, but mostly the reappearance of those same scenes, year after year, builds a wonderful collection of memories. I recall great shots at other tournaments, maybe even who won a tournament when and where, but I have a ready file of great shots, years, and Masters winners burned into my brain.
There’s something about this year, maybe it’s the lack of blooms on the course, maybe it’s the crowded leader board, that reminds me of 1975. That was the year that Miller, Weiskopf, and Nicklaus fought it out on the final day. (Jack won.)
My wife and I were living in Lubbock, Texas, in 1975 and often played golf with another couple. I went to grad school with the guy, and the four of us had become good friends. I always enjoyed playing golf with him because I was slightly better and he liked to press bets. I could clear 50 cents on a good day, but that was a 1970’s 50 cents and I was a starving grad student. Big money.
Anyway, we went over to the other couple’s house to watch the Masters on Sunday afternoon. We went to their house because we liked them, but also because they had a color TV. (Thus the lack of blooms reminding me of that year.) I’d grown up in a house with black and white TV and my wife and I were poor students at the time and couldn’t afford more than a little black and white portable, so seeing the tournament in color was really uptown. I still have clear mental images of how the course looked that year. I have no recollection of the actual play, except that I was transfixed by the drama and the scenery. I had to look up who won before I wrote this, but I clearly remember scenes from the battlefield.
The only year that competes with 1975 in my memory is 1986, and I’m sure anyone who saw Nicklaus win that day will never forget it. If I have one hope for this year, it’s that Couples can pull off a Nicklaus, but I’ll settle for another beautiful entry in my mental file cabinet.
This one will stand out. It’ll be the one in color without azalea and dogwood blooms.
(Image by pocketwiley, via Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 license.)