Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Always a welcome event

It hardly seems possible, but there's talk already about the 2007 Masters. Like the start of baseball's spring training in February, talk of the Masters is a harbinger of spring and the summer to follow. It's something to hold onto to get you through a long snow-belt winter.

It may seem a bit premature to be talking about The Masters in December. But to my mind it's never too early to close one's eyes and hear the pastoral CBS theme music, to see the luxuriant fairways and blossoming spring flowers and imagine the fresh pungent smell of loblolly pine.

The Masters is by far my favorite tournament to watch. It's like comfort food for the eyes and ears. Yes, that's the word: comfort. The Masters embraces you with its tradition, its permanence. You sink into its soft cushions of history. Come, sit under the spreading tree in back of the clubhouse and forget the troublesome news of today. The Masters transports you back to a gentler, kinder, more gracious time. There, over on the practice green are Jones, Sarazen, Nelson, Hogan, Palmer, a young Nicklaus. The soft cluck of balata as white balls curl slowly toward the holes. The murmur of polite conversation, the clink of ice cubes on cut glass. And everywhere, green. Fragrant, freshly mown green grass and pine needles.

Someday, I hope to get to Augusta, even if it's just for a practice round or the par-3 tournament. It's a pilgrimage every golfer should try to make.


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