Serving Two Masters

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Depending on the moon’s cycle, Easter can fall anywhere between late March to late April. Unfortunately, this year it has fallen on the same Sunday as the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament..which means I’ll be sharing my celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with Phil Mickelson’s birdie putts on the tricky greens of Augusta National.  I’m already expecting icy stares from Linda when my brother-in-law, Bill and I wolf down our ham dinners then excuse ourselves from the table and head to the other room to watch Masters coverage on CBS TV.  Most women don’t understand why their golfing husbands are so obsessed with The Masters but for us, it is what Mecca is to Muslims or Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim is to Norwegian Lutherans. It is simply the holy grail of golf.
Created by the legendary Bobby Jones in 1933, The Masters has grown to become the most prestigious tournament on the professional tour. The course itself is so exclusive that play isn’t even allowed on it from June to October so it can be kept pristine for the first week in April. Membership at Augusta National is limited to 300 people; mainly incredibly wealthy old white guys who don’t even play the game but insist on clinging like old fashioned rules and regulations like lint to a wool sweater. For example..those who come to watch the tournament are called “patrons”..not fans, not a gallery or crowd. Veteran golf broadcaster, Jack Whitaker learned that the hard way when he made the mistake of referring to them as a “mob.” When the club got wind of what he said, Whitaker was banned from Augusta for many years.  CBS’s popular and colorful golf analyst, Gary McCord hasn’t been back to The Masters since 1995 when he joked that the greens were so fast they appear to have been bikini-waxed. The head honchos at Augusta didn’t find that one bit funny and banned McCord for life.It’s been six years since women’s activist, Martha Burk butted heads with then Augusta National chairman, Hootie Johnson over the club’s men-only membership policy. Burk called for pickets outside the course and boycotts against Masters’ sponsors if that policy wasn’t changed.  Hootie responded by simply saying no and announced that the event would go unsponsored that year. You can do that when you have guys named Gates and Buffet on the membership rolls.
I would love someday to actually see The Masters in person and walk along those hallowed lush green fairways lined by tall pine trees with thousands of flowering dogwoods and azaleas in full bloom.  This might have been the year to do it too. From what I’m reading, lots of corporate big wigs who have always made The Masters a rite of Spring party, are staying home in droves this year because of the recession. Oh, they still may have a few million tucked away in the bank, but in times like these, you don’t want to be seen flaunting it around by taking week-long flings to Georgia in the company plane; renting fancy homes and limos. Even the scalpers are hurting. Four day passes that used to bring 35 hundred dollars are now fetching less than half that.
That’s still out of my league.
Nope, guys like Bill and me will have to be content watching from our recliners. I wonder if our wives will serve us dessert in front of the TV.  

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