Masters Mien Sends Mixed Message

2014 Masters

The just-released edition of The Grain, our bi-monthly e-magazine, includes a podcast with colleagues Tom Bedell, David DeSmith, and host Hal Phillips discussing The Masters.  Asked to identify their favorite and least favorite aspects of “the tradition” – figuratively designated the green jackets versus the cheese-and-pimento-on-white-bread sandwiches – talk included several defenseless targets: the lugubrious Butler Cabin, antic restrictions on vocabulary for media reporting on the event, maudlin theme music.

For me, The Masters is like the pimento-and-cheese sandwich left in the pocket of the green jacket – two sides of the same coin. The gallery – that is to say, the “patrons” – is obviously more knowledgeable and better behaved than at week-in, week-out tour stops. And as DeSmith points out, the absence of corporate iconography, not to mention an abbreviated advertising schedule, is a real breath of fresh air.

Having experienced the joys the game brings, though, is what allows golfers to view traditions like The Masters as agreeably goofy. We’ve also been around enough to know that whatever you think of Augusta’s quirks, the club doesn’t have a monopoly on them.

(Phillips and I learned of such a quirk when we visited Capilano Golf & Country Club, outside Vancouver, several summers ago. The manager told us, a bit sheepishly, that shorts were allowed but must be worn with long socks. They looked pretty stupid, but we instantly agreed to the weird sock regulation and were rewarded with a sun-dappled round on a Stanley Thompson classic with surreal views of the cityscape and Capilano Bridge.)

By coincidence, the PGA’s “Perfect Day” campaign to boost participation was announced last week; and while results are to come, at least the title’s more promising than other existing strategies.

But what about the guy or woman who hasn’t had a perfect day, not on the golf course, anyway? They may be thinking that golf certainly looks intriguing. Would The Masters be more or less likely to encourage them to act on the impulse to give golf a shot? Or do they absorb the proceedings as proof that every detractor’s complaint about the game’s perceived crustiness is true.

To the choir, The Masters is something like an inside joke, a running gag, cool because of its very different-ness. To the outsider, this may seem more like otherworldliness.


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