Spring arrives "officially" at different times for different people. For some it's Easter, while for others, it's when that first flower pops up in the garden. School age kids celebrate when they get their "Spring break", while some folks exalt in the fact that they can get the boat in the lake now that it's not frozen over. Other members of the general public link sporting events with spring, such as the start of Major League Baseball or the Daytona 500 automobile race. For me it's golf and The Masters.
I just love this golf course. Every inch of it is meticulously manicured to perfection. The azaleas are in bloom and the Georgia pines are looming around every corner. The greens are lightning fast and it's not unusual to see someone putt the ball right off of it and into a hazard. Tiger did just that last year. Of course he also holed out an incredible chip shpt on 16 that the world will see time and time again. It is a religion with some people. Why else would they name holes 11, 12, and 13 Amen Corner?
This club just drips with tradition. Designed by Bobby Jones, the first tourney was held at Augusta in 1934. I grew up idolizing Arnold Palmer and wasn't really happy when this young upshot from Ohio won in 1963. Jack Nicklaus would win 5 more green jackets, the most dramatic being in 1986 when he was 46 years old. I could not believe it when Larry Mize sunk a 140 foot chip shot in 1987 to beat out Greg Norman in a playoff. Ben Crenshaw's emotional win in 1995 and Phil Mickelson leaping into the air in 2004 after his birdie putt are also strong memories in my mind.
But even without the golfers out there, the course is so beautiful, it stands by itself. Rae's creek, the Ben Hogan bridge, the Eisenhower tree, the magnolias all add to the uniqueness of this tournament. No wonder the birds love to sing there. Just listen, you'll hear them. It must be spring.