Sports Talk

When you talk about bucket lists, for a sports nut, the list in most of our buckets is almost bottomless. I had one friend, a sports reporter, who attended numerous Olympics, soccer World Cups, Stanley Cup finals - you name the big competition, and he covered it. But there’s one event that he always raved about - covering the Masters in Augusta.

And that’s definitely near the top of my to do list.

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Ever since my parents bought me my first set of nine, left-handed golf clubs for $29 when I was 11, I can remember watching the Masters every April on TV. Although there was no HD TV back then, no large flat screen TVs, and they didn’t cover every single hole as they do now, it was still a fascinating tournament to watch. Back in 1956, CBS used just six cameras and covered only the final four holes. Tournament coverage of the first eight holes did not begin until 1993 and by 2006, more than 50 cameras were being used.

I’ve never walked the hallowed grounds, but I’ve been told numerous times that it’s golf’s version of heaven on earth. It all began back in 1930 when American amateur golfer extraordinaire Bobby Jones bought some land in Augusta, Georgia with the intention of building and designing a golf course “like no other”.

Finished in 1933, the first Masters tournament was held the following year. Throughout its history, it’s been a favourite tournament of many golfing greats. I still remember watching Jack Nicklaus win his sixth Masters in 1986 at the ancient age of 46 - the oldest winner of any Major tournament to date.

And you win more than just money and prestige, how about job security.

Masters champions are automatically invited to play in the other three majors (the U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship) for the next five years and earn a lifetime invitation to the Masters. They also receive membership on the PGA Tour for the following five seasons (without having to attain a certain ranking to keep their card) plus invitations to The Players Championship for five years. And the winner gets a gaudy but desirable green jacket.

Another tradition is the Champions’ Dinner, held each year on the Tuesday evening before Thursday’s first round. The dinner was first held in 1952, hosted by defending champion Ben Hogan, to honour the past champions of the tournament. Officially known as the “Masters Club”, it includes only past winners of the Masters. (The previous year’s winner selects the menu which usually means the meal represents the area where he’s from.)

I could go on and on. There’s so much more to the event. So if you’ve never watched the Masters on TV, trust me, take a peak next weekend (Thursday through Sunday). Even if you’re not a fan of the “good walk spoiled”, I guarantee the scenery alone will make it all worthwhile.

© Melita New Era

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