TEN BEST MASTERS TRADITIONS
Nantz’s calm demeanor may be out of place at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, but it’s perfect for the Masters, which takes place at Augusta National this weekend. It is undoubtedly his true calling as an announcer. His first Masters broadcast was the very famous 1986 tournament won by a 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus in a final round surge. Nantz also famously dubbed the Masters “a tradition unlike any other.”
LIMITED COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION
There are only three minutes of advertising per hour on Masters telecasts. That’s something you truly cherish come the tension-filled final round. Other events, take note.
The atmosphere at Augusta National is absurdly haughty. This is a place where spectators are known as patrons and professional windbag Gary McCord was once banned for comparing fast greens to a bikini wax during a 1994 telecast. McCord, a fixture of CBS golf telecasts to this day, has not been allowed to return to the Masters since. More unfortunately, it’s important to remember that Augusta is as famous for social inequality as it is for pimiento-cheese sandwiches.
PAR 3 TOURNAMENT
It’s all fun and games on Wednesday, the eve of the tournament. Golfers compete on Augusta’s 9-hole Par 3 course as a final tune-up and chance to breathe before the main event. The tradition of players attempting to skip a ball across a pond and onto a green is always a sight to behold.
It doesn’t feel like spring has arrived until I hear the soothing Masters theme meander on for minutes over pages of golf scores.
Each hole at Augusta is named after a particular tree or shrub, such as Tea Olive (1), Carolina Cherry (9) and Chinese Fir (14). If you watch the Masters on TV enough times, you oddly gain a sense of course knowledge.
Golfers say their prayers when they arrive at the daunting yet supremely gorgeous stretch of holes 11-13. The tournament cannot be won on Amen Corner, but it can be lost there, as many have learned.
The Masters is a stage for some of the most dramatic and memorable moments in all of sports, something I learned at a young age. The first Masters I ever watched was Greg Norman’s massive 1996 collapse to Nick Faldo. The 1997 installment marked the start of a new era in golf, as a 22-year-old Tiger Woods finished at a record-low 17-under-par en route to his first major championship.
Few things in sports are as exciting as watching Tiger Woods in contention during the final round of a major. And with 12 Top 10 finishes in 18 Masters appearances, Tiger typically has a chance to win in the final round. Whether you love or hate Woods, the electricity he brings to the game of golf is undeniable, and it’s doubled when he dons his iconic Sunday red and black. When you watch Tiger, you get the sense that any given shot can be historic.
GREEN JACKET CEREMONY
After each Masters, Nantz, the defending champion and the Augusta chairman convene in Butler Cabin to welcome the new champion and highest-placing amateur to the exclusive fraternity by presenting them with ceremonial green jackets. It’s the closest sports and freemasonry come to intersecting.