By Roderick Easdale published
Augusta National reveres tradition, but is clever in adapting to changing times. It then adopts the new way of doing things as though it had always been done that way. Some of their traditions are not as old as you may think. Is it time for some new traditions?
Ways To Make The Masters Better
We have a couple of ways to make the Masters better which we'd like to contribute to the club’s suggestion book. In fact we might have three - the third of which is to have a suggestions book.
I am not, and never will be, a member of Augusta, so I will never find out for sure, but I imagine suggestion books are not part of the way of life at Augusta National. They do not like too much scrutiny of how they do things, after all.
However, here are a couple of suggestions to help the tournament become even better than it already is...
Tweak the rules of the Par-3 contest
The two-year hiatus in the running of the par 3 competition due to Covid gives Augusta National an ideal chance to relaunch the event with a slightly different format.
This par 3 contest on the eve of the tournament is now one of the revered traditions of the tournaments. It is particularly enjoyed as it is seen as a way of the club-of-many-rules letting its hair down.
But has it gone too far?
This contest dates from 1960 and seems to be having a mid-life identity crisis.
Is the Par 3 contest on the eve of the Masters a genuine 9-hole competition, a glorified exhibition, a chance to see some semi-retired legends of the game tee it up again, or a family fun day out for many players?
Or is it a slightly unsatisfactory mishmash of all these aspects?
Many players let their caddies putt on one of the greens, often the final one. These caddies are often family members. (Some players seem to have more caddies than they have clubs in their bag.)
This caddie-play has become something of a tradition at a club that reveres tradition. But it is also against the rules of golf. So the player gets disqualified.
It makes a wee mockery of a competition if you know many players are knowingly going to get themselves disqualified during it. (Many players are happy to do so because of the superstition that no-one who wins the Par 3 competition will win that year’s Masters.)
Caddie-play has become an unofficial tradition, much enjoyed by patrons and television. So, on the principle if your can’t beat ’em, join ’em why not amend the rules of the Par 3 competition? Allow a player’s caddie to play on one of the holes.
Why not? This is Augusta National, they do it their way and don’t much care what anyone else thinks. It would merely add yet another unique feature to Masters week.
Another of the ways to make the Masters better would be if someone actually won the Par 3 competition and went on to win that year's Masters. That would end the silly superstition, one which, like so many, has now become self-fulfilling.
Have a better ending for television viewers
One of the ways to improve the Masters would be to end on a more upbeat note. The Masters, to the worldwide television audience at least, ends on a rather anti-climatic one.
The ‘prize giving’ on television is low key, no applauding crowds, no trophy even. It is held in the Butler Cabin for the benefit of CBS television whose newscaster asks some anodyne questions.
Then the previous year’s winner helps the new winner into a Green Jacket.
It has made a star of the Green Jacket, with the symbolism of one winner welcoming the next one into the club. But this symbolism only works with first-time Masters winners.
Patrick Reed helping Tiger Woods on with his Green Jacket? Tiger Woods was already a member of this exclusive club, has been for more than 20 years.
There is in fact a prize-giving ceremony at the Masters. It is held in the open air, with dignitaries sitting in line, patrons watching, trophies on display and presented, brief speeches. At this other prize winners also get their moment in the sun.
But the television viewers rarely get to see that. Just a scene in a gents outfitters.
Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he worked as contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around 20 countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest All Rounder.
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