Today’s Touch: Masters Memories

Ah, the beginning of April. In the sporting world, all eyes are on small town Augusta, Georgia for The Masters.

NCAA basketball has just concluded, baseball season is still too young to mean much, the NHL and NBA seasons aren’t yet in the playoffs, and we’re still a few months away from NFL training camps.

Golf takes centre stage, and rarely does it disappoint.

It’s a tradition like no other, says Jim Nantz. He, of CBS broadcasting fame. He, who just completed calling the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game and will switch gears to become the lead announcer for the tournament coverage.

Whether you’re a PGA professional or just a weekend warrior, The Masters is still a dream. Get there as a player, and you’ve earned it as one of the world’s best.

Get there as a fan – excuse me, as a patron – and you’ve either done some unspeakable act, you’ve won the lottery, or, you’ve got a friendly hook-up. You’re free to roam  the grounds (walking only, please), take in the sights and the smells (but leave your cell phone in the car), and load up on moderately priced souvenirs and wonderfully cheap concessions.

It’s an inspirational setting.

I’ve yet to attend. One day, I’m sure. One day, I’m hoping to cover the tournament. I’d likely break the first rule of sports journalism and become a fan, but not of a singular player. Of the atmosphere.

For now, like 99% of us, I’ll be enjoying the coverage from my couch. Augusta National in HD is, well, almost like being there. And the official Masters mobile and tablet apps are incredible accompaniments to the tournament coverage.

Nothing halfway for the men (and two women) in green.

It’ll be my 16th-straight year watching The Masters from my couch. In those 16 years, there have been four moments that have stood out for me.

Likely, moments that I’ll never forget.

  1. Tiger Woods demolishes the field to win his first major in 1997. I was nine years old, and my family had gone to my great-aunt and uncle’s house for a Sunday dinner. But, I was allowed to watch the last of the final round. It was the moment when my Grandfather, who passed away just four years ago, introduced me to golf.
  2. Sorry Len Mattiace, but I think the collective will of 30 million Canadians helped Mike Weir win that Sunday in 2003. It was a magical moment for all Canadians. Weir had won The Masters. The next day, he went to Sears wearing the green jacket, and dropped a puck at a Toronto Maple Leafs game. Oh Canada, indeed.
  3. Tiger, again, with the chip heard ’round the world in 2005. I sprung out of my couch for this one. It was the year before YouTube took off (in fact, YouTube debuted in late 2005, it really took off in 2006) so I couldn’t immediately watch the clip the next day. But I’ve made up for it in the years since. Still one of the greatest non-advertisement advertisements I’ve ever seen. And, one of the greatest calls in sports. IN YOUR LIFE…
  4. Just last year we had unseasonably warm temperatures, so I helped my family to open up our cottage during Masters weekend. It was okay though, I’d leave early on Sunday and be home by noon, I thought. Not so. I ended up getting into a car accident on the way home and had to wait for my parents to take me back to Toronto. Alas, I was still home before the leaders teed off. And at least I had a half-decent excuse to lay on the couch all afternoon. Plus I got to see this. And this.

Bring on 2013. Bring on Tea Olive, Flowering Peach, and Redbud. Bring on pimento cheese sandwiches. Bring on The Masters.

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