THE PERFECTION OF THE MASTERS, AGAIN!

The King

Phil “Lefty” Mickelson’s winning of his third green jacket yesterday was, once again, the icing on the cake for another spectacular Masters Golf Tournament! While watching the television coverage all week from Augusta, you get the idea this is something that is really special. For many years, a ticket to the Masters has been the toughest sporting event ticket to acquire in the world. I count myself as one of the lucky ones that has attended the Masters. I can’t remember the exact year, ’74 or ’75, the year Lee Elder qualified as the first black golfer to compete in the tournament. I followed Elder for several holes mostly out of respect for him and the fact that he was a “home boy” of mine from Washington D.C. Being a “Yankee” from Minnesota, I was shocked by some of the comments easily heard throughout the gallery. I thought I was back in the Antebellum South. But I’d heard it all anyway since I was in school a piece up the road to the east at the University of South Carolina.

Augusta National Golf Club is quite possibly the single most beautiful real estate in the world. I have never seen a golf course so perfectly manicured in my life. I could not even find a bad lie in the rough! The gardeners and landscapers over the years have maintained a beautiful mix of nature, with the tall pines and wandering old oaks, and the breathtaking sights of azaleas, magnolias, redbuds, etc. in their full splendor! Flower gardens abound. Bobby Jones, possibly the greatest amateur golfer of all time found this property and developed into today’s most beautiful golf course in the world. If you’ve heard about the goose bumps one grows when walking up Magnolia Lane toward the club, it is true. Although I was only about twenty at the time I was there, it’s a humbling experience. I had the goose bumps. This, I believe, is a life-long memory. The only other time in my life that I experienced this was being in the Metrodome for a Twins game against the hated Brewers from across the border in August of 1987. The dome was full, over 60,000 in attendance, pre-curtain era, ands the Twins were driving to a pennant. Unbelievable! One difference, Augusta National is humbling for avid golf fans and the Dome was a plastic piece of junk!

While attending Carolina, one of my best friends from high school, Randy Connor, went to the University of Georgia. We used to go back and forth to party at each others schools. Both schools had great reputations as pro level party schools. One thing I noticed, however, was the beauty of the girls in Athens. The prettiest in the country, and I have been to many colleges around the U.S., so I know of what I speak. I’m also showing my advancing age, we used to call the girls “hot”, now we say they are “pretty”. Well, the only place on the planet where you’ll find prettier girls is at the Masters. As you walk around Augusta National you are so dazzled by the surroundings, and especially as a twenty year old, I was blown away by the hundreds of “hotties” bopping around the hallowed grounds! I’ll keep this G-rated so I won’t go into more of the details!

This year’s Masters was really a typical Masters story. These players put so much pressure on themselves to perform well here and every year there are so many stories of the on-course melt-downs and blow ups. The course is set up to be very tough, and when a player has a bad hole, it can change his psyche so much he may be done for the day. When this happens, it quickly takes him out of contention or missing the cut after Friday’s round. To do well here it takes a mental toughness that no other sport can claim to need to be victorious. Very seldom does a guy “break out” and win the Masters. The Europeans do well here because they play a tougher tour in Europe. They grew up playing in harsher conditions and they are better in general at match-play. Being a solid match-play player is very helpful to being successful at the Masters. A player has huge pressure on them with every shot in match-play, similar to pressure of the Masters.

The most successful guys in the Masters have been Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods. Jack has focus like no other golfer in the game until Tiger came around. Tiger’s focus, combined with his mental toughness and physical ability, will make him eventually the greatest golfer ever. I love this kid’s game. Like nobody else since Arnie in his prime, Tiger can “will” his way to victory. Arnold Palmer is most responsible for the modern-day popularity of golf. His game was never what one would call “technically right”. That famous short fast back swing and the flailing feet were his trademark. But Arnie could sense the kill! He’d hitch up his trousers, take some drags off the cigarette, and start the “charge to victory” with his loyal “Arnie’s Army” in tow. Arnie was great because of his mental toughness and competitive drive. Arnie was an on-course “swash-buckler”. When charging, he took some ill-advised daring shots, sometimes it didn’t work. Reminds me of the modern-day golfing “swash-buckler”, none other than Phil Mickelson. Unlike Arnold, Lefty swings from the wrong side of the ball but, like Arnold, Phil will take chances. Phil has a beautiful golf swing, much unlike Arnold. Here is a typical Phil scenario from yesterday. He was in the pine straw under some trees on number 15, a par 5, most players would have laid up because of the trees and Rays Creek flowing in front of the green. In play, this hole is an easy reach in 2 for big hitters like Phil, if their tee ball is on the fairway. Well, Phil fired off of the straw, split two pines and stuck the ball about eight feet to the right of the flag! Vintage Mickelson! Phil played the course great, his game works here and I believe he will many more green jackets, he might even win more than Jack’s six. I think Tiger will win more as well. His game, his toughness, his focus, his competitive fire, and his will to win will carry him there. Also, Tiger has a true understanding, appreciation, and respect for the history of the Masters and golf in general that few of his peers have. That in itself, drives Tiger past most of the regular tour guys.

A final thought on the Masters. It celebrates the game perhaps more than any other major tournament. The tournament was started by the great Bobby Jones, an amateur. The Masters every year invites the top amateurs from around the world to play with the pros in the toughest golf competition on tour. This year’s low amateur is 16 year-old Matteo Manassero from Italy. What an incredible kid! Only 16 and he makes the cut at Augusta! This is what dreams are made of. Good for you Matteo, and good luck this year on the European Tour. He is turning pro in three weeks! A new Sergio!

I really love the sport of golf. The Masters is the top of the golf mountain. I’m revved up now for my renewed playing interest in the game. Thanks for today’s read, and I’ll see you on the first tee!

Cam Obert

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One Response to “THE PERFECTION OF THE MASTERS, AGAIN!”

  1. youandmedoweagree Says:

    YOU’RE RIGHT CAM IT WAS A GREAT FINAL DAY AT THE MASTERS..I FOLLOWED IT ALL WEEK MYSELF..IN FACT GOT MISTY EYED WHEN AMY AND PHIL HUGGED AND KISSED EACH OTHER,I GUESS I KNOW THE MAJOR DRAMAS IN FAMILIES THAT CANCER CAN CAUSE AS I LOST 5 PEOPLE INCLUDING ME MUM TO CANCER…AS JIM NANCE SAID ON THE 10TH TEE “NOW THE CHAMPIONSHIP BEGINS” SO TRUE….AND YES ON MY LARGE SCREEN TV IT IS TRULY A BEAUTIFUL PLACE ..ALTHOUGH I THOUGHT THE AZEALAS WERE NOT IN FULL BLOOM…OH WELL..IT WAS AGREAT AFTERNOON….SEE YA !!…

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