Masters Week: Fighting The Pieties That Be

As close readers of this blog already know, I possess a highly developed aversion to sanctimony. As a result, Masters Week really is something of a trial for me — until Saturday afternoon, when the inherent competitive attractions of the tournament ultimately win out and take precedence over the weeks of bullshit fawning and musing that routinely precede and general suffuse media coverage of golf’s first major championship of the year.

In this spirit of Fighting The Pieties That Be, I offer this week a series of posts that discuss or otherwise celebrate golf in non-traditional and subversive ways. By mentioning the Masters only obliquely, and with derision, I do my part in diminishing the hype — and perhaps opening our eyes just a bit to the fact that there really is a lot more to like about golf than yet another story on how cheap the sandwiches are at Augusta National, how struck with wonder the amateurs have been in the Crow’s Nest all week, what a fabulous tradition the meaningless par-3 tournament is, and yet another gauzy feature on Arnold Palmer, against whom I have nothing, but let’s get real: The man last won a major in 1964, the year I was born… (Quick caveat: If said story centers on how and why Arnie never won a major once he quit smoking, after the ’64 Masters, I’ll read that with enthusiasm, as I’m fascinated by this little-shared but quite fascinating factoid.)

So, without further ado, see here Fight the Piety Golf Tidbit No. 1:

Check out what I saw recently on display in the striking new clubhouse at Danang Golf Club, on the Central Coast of Vietnam. The image here provided says more than I ever could. Are those not the coolest mannequins you’ve ever seen? I’m not a golf apparel guy; it doesn’t much interest me. For the record, the shirt here was produced by a company called AB Pro Golf, whose own innovations include a line of reversible shirts and high-performance fabrics that include anti-bacterial agents.

But enough about that. I first saw them in March, but I still can’t take my eyes off these mannequins. There’s a cyborg quality to them that I find eerie but irresistible. Howie Roberts, the general manager at Danang GC, reports that such mannequins are quite the rage in Bali, but I’ve not seen anything like them in golf shops anywhere in Asia-Pacific, North America or Europe. They’re sequined, of course, with different combinations of colors: red and black, teal and pale green (pictured), orange and yellow… They simultaneously bring out the best in a shirt’s color while grabbing the eye and never letting go. Check out the shop the next time you’re visiting Danang GC, and bring your sticks; this Norman design may well be the best new course (opened May 2010) you’ll find anywhere.

[Read all of the great stories on The Masters by TheAPosition.com writers. We’ve created a directory to all of them here.]

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2 Responses to “Masters Week: Fighting The Pieties That Be”

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  1. David DeSmith

    Hal — your writing style is addictively enjoyable. And I even don’t mind the shameless plug for the Viet Cong and their choice of manikins. But if you’re going to lash out against piety in the world of golf, I think there are better targets than Arnie and The Masters (too many others to list here, and you know what they are anyway). I think all of us would agree that the iron fist wielded by the members of Augusta National, which pounds out inane dictates about which words can be used on-air to describe people/fans, etc.) is silly and annoying. No question there. But I think some of the traditions of the event are laudable, particularly in comparison to the way things are done elsewhere in the world of professional golf today. The fact that players are out with their kids the day before the season’s first major playing a frivolous round of par-3 golf is a great thing in my opinion. Anywhere else, they’d be grinding on the range with their swing coaches and psychologists, ignoring family and fans in their quest to groove their chances. That Augusta National includes amateur players in their field is also something to be commended, I think, as is their billeting of those players in the Crow’s Nest. What the media makes of these things, and the way they idolize Arnie, are different issues. What you are finding fault with may have as much to do with Jim Nantz as it does with Augusta National. I’m no traditionalist as you know, but some traditions are worth supporting.

  2. Hal Phillips

    DD: Good points and well taken. If we were discussing any other tournament, I would pin this whole gauzy Masters treatment on the media. But you and I both know that Jim Nantz et al. don’t make a move, or utter a single sentence, that the Boys haven’t insisted upon and/or approved ahead of time. There is palpable pressure to present and discuss this stuff as unchanging and “traditional” — I’m just tired of hearing it, the same old stories over and over again. If there was an Amateur who asked out of the Crow’s Nest, or someone who actually felt free to discuss the fact that he doesn’t like the obligation to play in the par-3 tournament, then those subjects might be interesting. But even if those things did happen, they would squelched, resulting in a never-ending and highly predictable highlight reel — like having to listen to schmaltzy Christmas carols at the Mall, or the political propaganda that authoritarian governments pipe into public spaces: “Your Golfing Politburo Loves You… That’s why we present 56 minutes of golfing action out of every hour of programming.” There’s a difference between presenting history episodically, in context, and presenting it continually, as dogma. Augusta and the Masters tip heavily toward the latter. I think they are brand-building more than exalting golf. And I find it annoying.

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