The Masters

By Neil Connolly, in Sport, Golf · 26-03-2021 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Only two weeks to go until the Masters starts; the general golfing public looking forward to the start of the season has a twofold importance this year in that Masters week is actually the same week we get to play golf again in Portugal.

It’s only five months since the Masters was held in 2020, they’ve never had two Masters run so close to each other, which is great for the spectators and also the competitors. But spare a thought for Dustin Johnson, he only gets to be reigning champion for five months.

He was asked about that situation a couple of weeks ago, his answer was typically laconic with a large dose of appreciation. He ‘doesn’t care’ he said, whether or not he got to be Masters champion for 12 months or a day, he can say for the rest of his life that he has been Masters champion and will forever be an honorary member of Augusta.

Before you start feeling too sorry for him, he could regale the journalist interviewing him, of a story which occurred in the last month, where he got to visit Augusta, play Augusta and stay at Augusta, for the first time as a member. Again, in a typically Johnson for turn of phrase saying, “That was pretty cool.”

Unlike other members he is now an Honorary Member, and allowed to take the green jacket off the premises, he doesn’t have to pay for it either. Where a normal member, has his jacket stored at the club, and when he phones ahead to say that he’s going to be playing, the jacket is then taken out of the storage room and placed in the member’s locker, with any running repairs being carried out by the in house staff, such as a loose button or frayed collar.

Again unlike other members, he won the membership. It is a well-known fact that you are only invited to become a member, and if you were to gently hint that you would be interested in becoming a member is a sure fire way of making sure that you’ll never be invited. It’s not about the money, it’s about whether you will fit in with the other members.

There are no hard and fast rules at the club, you will hear the word ‘favourably’ or ‘unfavourably’ used, in the context of that will be looked upon favourably, or the more dreaded context of unfavourably. Legend has it that if you do something unfavourable, you will not receive the bill in the autumn, meaning that you’ve just been cast out of the ultimate club with no appeal available.

Apparently this hasn’t happened in a long, long time, one story I’ve come across in my research for this article, goes along the lines that a member walked onto the veranda at the club with a pair of shorts on, where the Chairman was sitting, and was inquisitively asked what he was doing this afternoon, “Playing golf of course,” was the reply. “Well I hope the course is nearby.” Message received understood, and the pro shop made a little money that afternoon. A great example of the ‘unfavourable’ situation.

The reigning champion also has one other important piece of business to take care of which is picking the menu for the dinner held for the Champions Wednesday before the start of the championship. Now Dustin Johnson is known for his strict diet, but also his love for hamburgers and fries, it’ll be interesting to see which way he goes.

The cool thing this year, is that there is every chance you’ll have played your first round of golf in a long time, the same week the Masters is held. For your own sanity I wouldn’t compare your greens in regulation or the length of your drives with these guys, just be thankful you got to play and that they got to play too.

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