More Musings On The Masters
It always seems like this one event will give us more drama and excitement than any other professional tournament. As the old saying goes, “the Masters starts on the back nine on Sunday”, is not far from truth most every year, and this one was no exception. Charl Schwartzel put on a magnificent performance to birdie the last four holes to win by two. No one has ever done that before, and his precision down the stretch was impressive, as was his ability to keep cool under that kind of fire.

I also like the fact that his father is and has been his only coach, and he doesn’t travel with Charl while he’s on tour. In other words, he’s learned the game and now he plays it, continuing his learning on his own. As you probably figured from my April Fool’s Day column, I’m tired of hearing how these players travel with their entourage of swing gurus, mental coaches, agents, managers, handlers, dog trainers, masseuses, nannies . . . . . Charl seems to be more of a self-made golfer than the vast majority, so he’s a new star on my list of golfers to watch.

Tiger’s Tale

I figured when Tiger eagled the eighth hole, that he was going on a tear and would win it all, but that was just not to be. I’ll admit that I had my fingers crossed he wouldn’t do it, because I’m just not a fan of his. His talent and skill with a golf club is unquestionable, but his behavior and treatment of fans, the press and his fellow competitors leaves a lot to be desired. I no longer watch the NBA or other major professional sports because the “stars” repulse me for the most part. They make millions off of us, but too many give little in return in the way of appreciation. And then they find a way to whine about not getting their fair share. I’m hoping that we don’t have an NFL season this fall, actually.

But the most tiresome thing about professional sports is the seemingly endless stream of stories about thuggish or boorish behavior of its star players. These guys act like the rules for everyone else, just don’t apply to them, and for the most part they don’t. Wouldn’t it be nice if pro athletes had a “moral turpitude” clause in their contracts like most executives do? Get arrested/convicted, find a new job. Act like a sleaze, get a new job. Treat fans poorly, get a new job.

Fortunately, professional golf has escaped that syndrome for the most part, but Tiger is still stuck in his old pattern. And I’d like to see the PGA Tour just suspend him for a while until he grows up and learns that this is a privilege to play in front of all of us, and it carries a responsibility. It’s not his right to fly in, play for millions, throw clubs, curse, spit and basically be a boor, give a curt 2-3 minute interview and then take off. If his class and grace matched his talent and skill, he’d be the best ever. But in my book, he could take lots of lessons from the likes of Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson and many others before him.

The Changing Of Augusta

As I have watched the Masters for the last decade, since they began to “Tiger proof” it, as it’s said, I see the same course I’ve watched for years, but a very different tournament. And I have to admit to feeling nostalgic about “the good old days”. Back when 13 and 15 were real par five holes, where a good drive could give you a chance to go for the green in on your second shot . . . . with a fairway wood or long iron!!!! Back when a well placed drive on 18 could give you as little as a five-iron into the green, maybe even a six, but not a wedge!!!!

What I see now is a par 34 back nine. If most players can reach 13 and 15 with a middle iron, are they really par fives? I’ll admit, it’s a tough par 34, but in my book, a par 34 nonetheless. When Ray Floyd won the Masters in 1976, he put a 5-wood in his bag, just for the par five holes on the back nine, and it paid off for him. That club is in the Augusta trophy case. Oh, and his winning score was 271, 17 under par!!!

Imagine if the courses were long enough to make today’s tour players hit long irons and fairway woods to short par fives, and longer ones were unreachable. Imagine if today’s players had to face a finishing hole that was driver, one-iron as Hogan did in the U.S. Open at Merion long ago. Imagine if they all had to play the game learned on their own and what their fellow players shared with them, as did all the early stars. Imagine if they had to tour around the courses with the comparatively crude equipment and balls played in the history of the game.

Imagine . . .
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[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
I would love to see guys get suspende dor fined for that kind of behavior. thing is, it would have to be an International Tour wide thing. If you're banned, you can't go play on the euro tour or japan tour or nationwide tour. You're banned. Period. It's the "independent contractor" argument that stops things like that from happening. "if they fine tiger, he'll go play the european tour more and they'll get the money" - not if he's banned and sitting on his butt for 2 months he won't.
bobhooe says:
How far do you think Hogan hit his 1 iron with crude equipment? As far as Dustin Johnsons 5 iron?
Kurt the Knife says:
You hit the precise note regarding NBA,NFL,MLB players that disgusts me and why I couldn't give a **** about any of them. Millions upon millions of dollars thrown at a bunch of greedy, whiny, morally bankrupt slags.
And what disgusts me more is how our youth culture idolizes them.
Golf, on the other hand, has kids like McIlroy and his manner regarding his experience at the Masters, Johnson after a DQ at Whistling Straits and even Na after a nasty 16 on one hole.
Ya just said it and I agree.
mjaber says:
Unfortunately, the players in all sports who do an abundance of good are in the minority. You never hear, or read about, those stories. It's all about Dez Bryant's pants being too low, or Lebron's mom. Very rarely do you get a story about the Matt Light foundation, or Dana White paying for a kid's surgery... unless you really go look for them. There are a lot of good, generous people in all sports. That's just not news anymore. And it's a real shame. If we idolized people as much for their "everyday" things as much as we do for their "game day" things, we'd be in a much better situation- worldwide. Guys like Kobe and Lebron, Dez Bryant and Brett Favre, Manny Ramirez and Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods- They wouldn't be stars. They'd be rich people that nobody likes.
mjaber says:
We need to teach our kids that it's not just about them. We need to show them that you can, and should, stand up for what is right and what you believe in. We need to show them that you should look up to people who do good, not just who can play a sport well.
srogers13 says:
Actually mjaber, I think the stories like that of Light and White are far more prevelant in the sports world, but the vast majority of the stories focus on the idiots. Remember the news motto, "If it bleeds it leads."
Kurt the Knife says:
Cal Ripken. There is one MLB cat I admire tremendously.
8thehardway says:
If someone did the math I'd imagine you'd need an 8,200 yard Augusta National before today's pros would need the same lofts into greens as guys 30 years ago. It would be far more exciting but the only way it could happen is to lengthen the course electronically and have pros tee off in a simulator.

Sports in general have lost me as a viewer. Teams play at places like General Electric stadium, owners charge fans for the right to buy overpriced season tickets, munch $8 hotdogs and drink $10 beers. Players act like an individual corporations and relocate at the drop of a hat. There are no teams anymore, just an amalgam of individuals whose financial interests bring them together for a year or two. Don't even get me started on the commercials that pay for so much of it.
snuffyword says:
I have banned watching, following and supporting the NBA and NHL since their last strike and lost of season, respectively. I will do the same with the NFL when it loses its season. Because there appears to be a lack of appreciation for the way the fans support these sports, I can't understand why the fans keep flocking back and forget how they were treated during these times. As for me, these sports are not getting anymore of my money and passionate support.

As for Augusta, I think the course is long enough. With today's technology in equipment and the skill and talent of players, a course can be changed by strategically placing trouble (bunkers, trees, difficult rough, etc) on the easier holes. Make shots more risk/reward by forcing a player to hit a "perfect" drive or having to hit a long iron or 5-wood into the green. It doesn't have to be like the U.S. Open set-up but thoe holes could be made more difficult without increasing length.
8thehardway says:
More trees and bunkers? Who'll inform the members their scores and blood pressure must rise on the course year round so mine can rise on the couch for a few moments each April?
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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