The Masters: The green jacket, azaleas and pimento cheese

Many major events have special traditions, and The Masters golf championship has more than its share. Photo: Two popular Masters champs Photo: AP

AUGUSTAApril 12, 2013 – Every now and then The Masters golf championship takes some heat for being so steeped in its traditions.

It is the first of golf’s four major tournaments, and it is always played at the famed Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia. The Masters is the only major event where golfers play the same course every year. It’s tradition.


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Tradition is one of those few remaining links to the past where everyone can revel in the heritage of a bygone day, when life was simpler and less complicated. Ice hockey has its Stanley Cup. The Kentucky Derby its fancy hats. The Indy 500 has a bottle of milk for the champion. All these traditions are part of the signature that defines what they represent.

Every couple of years, Augusta National is criticized for being an old white guy’s good old boys club for the country’s elite. That, too, has been a tradition, though ancient barriers are slowly eroding and adapting to more contemporary thinking.

Former Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice has been a member of the club since last fall. Her acceptance went generally unnoticed until this week when it became a pre-tournament topic of discussion. Admitting Condi Rice was a public relations coup for the lords of power at Augusta National. Not only is Rice a black female, she is also a first-rate golfer who can probably beat most the club’s members.

Putting political nonsense aside, The Masters has other traditions that have made it arguably the most popular and best known golf tournament in the world.


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To begin with, The Masters is far more consistent than Punxsutawney Phil when it comes to trumpeting the arrival of spring. Nowhere in the world is there a more spectacular array of azaleas in bloom than Augusta’s 18 holes of golf. Not only is the course a cathedral of springtime magnificence, it is a also clarion call to Mother Nature that signals warmer days ahead.

The Masters (AP)

Because the tournament is annually is played at Augusta, it becomes the only golfing venue where galleries and viewers at home have a continual frame of reference. And there are many; Amen Corner, Rae’s Creek, stone bridges named for Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan and even the Eisenhower Cabin where the champion is interviewed after winning.

Some say such familiar sites are landmarks rather than traditions, but since Augusta National itself is a tradition, let’s just call them “traditional landmarks.”


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On the Wednesday before competition begins the Par 3 Contest t is always a crowd pleaser. Former champions, golfing legends and contemporary players participate in casual interactive rounds where they showcase their personalities in ways not typically expressed during the actual tournament. Players often use their children and grandchildren as caddies which establishes a family atmosphere that humanizes them with fans in a bond no other sport can create.

One tradition not witnessed by the public is the Champion’s Dinner. The winner from the previous year must host the meal, plan the menu and pay for former champions to be wined, dined and tell stories on the Tuesday before the tournament. Though tradition keeps it a closed event, you can bet that sooner or later it will be televised so that golf fans can watch their favorites from the past reminisce.

Among the newer traditions is watching the pros attempt to “skip” the ball across the water to #16 green during practice rounds. It is light-hearted fun guaranteed to have an enduring place in future Masters folklore.

When the tournament gets underway on Thursday, it usually begins with ceremonial drives by legends of the game. This year Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player teed off as the honorary starters.

Perhaps the most famous Master’s tradition is green jacket which goes to the winner. Britain’s Open Championship has its Claret Jug, another equally treasured golfing prize, but for the Master’s the green jacket reigns supreme over a trophy.

Throughout the year, that one percent of the population we hear so much about in the news has little in common with struggling pay-check-to-pay-check Americans, but for four days during The Master’s the rich give something back.

It is called 56-minutes of live televised golf coverage with only four minutes of commercials during each hour. That’s the rule that is also a tradition. No other sporting event in the world can make such a claim. Why do they do it? Because they can. And the beneficiaries are sports fans around the globe who want to see golf rather than advertisements.

For those fortunate enough to attend a Masters Golf Tournament, there is one final tradition that is impossible to beat. At an event like the Masters the impression might be that concessions are astronomical. Not so at Augusta National. Sandwiches still go for just $1.50, and the most popular, by far, is pimento cheese.

The Masters raises the curtain on spring. The grass is a lush carpet of green, the azaleas are in full flower and a pimento cheese sandwich is still a bargain. Now those are tradition worth savoring.

The pimento cheese sandwich

 

Contact Bob at  <ahref=”https://plus.google.com/#110562793209908234170/?rel=author”>Google+</a>

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

 

 

 

 

 


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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