Masters week always one of golf’s great times
Welcome back, Valley golfers. Hopefully the winter months treated you and your families well. As golfers in Northeast Ohio, there’s nothing more exciting than the combination of good health, an approaching spring, and the ever present “spring time itch” to get back on the course.
I asked Todd Franko (The Vindicator’s editor) when he wanted to start these columns and I’m pretty sure he said May. But this is Masters Week. And for those of us who elevate our sport to an almost religious plateau, this is one of our “holy weeks” while Augusta National is certainly our chapel.
As the only major to play the same course year after year, The Masters and Augusta National present fans and participants alike with a special set of both ever changing circumstances AND unforgettable memories on some of the world’s most well-known holes.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who could close my eyes and picture iconic shots on just about every hole on the course. And while Augusta National is known to continually tinker with the course, I could only imagine the mental struggle current participants must face as they play the same holes their heroes conquered generations ago.
But that’s what these professionals have worked for. That’s what they’ve dreamt about. That’s what they’ve prepared for their whole lives. They’re the best golfers in the world and they’re well deserving of all of the accolades and financial rewards that come with it.
This past Monday however, I was actually taken off guard while watching The Golf Channel’s “Live From” Masters coverage. Eighty-two years after 1934’s first Masters (originally called The First Annual Augusta National Invitational), I found myself surprised at Augusta’s ability to make the tournament even more special than it already is.
I don’t know how many of you got to watch Augusta’s newest tradition — the annual Drive, Chip, and Putt Championships — but I hope it was a lot.
Boys and Girls, age 7-17, from all across the country got to compete in a skills challenge that combines results from competitive drives, chips, and putts. It was amazing to watch.
As a former junior golfer — and now as a parent — I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to get to hit a competitive putt, or watch my child hit a putt, on the 18th hole at Augusta National. Actually, I take that back.
I can’t tell you how many putts I’ve made on 18 at Augusta. Ten-footer. Down the hill. Crowd goes silent. To beat Jack by 1 and win his first Masters. Jack Nicklaus may have won six Master’s but he had nothing on 10-year-old Jonah Karzmer, because I made that putt 1,000 times.
I can’t applaud Augusta National enough for the opportunity they now give aspiring golfers through the annual Drive, Chip, and Putt Championships.
If you really love this game we choose to care so much about, I dare you to watch those kids drain 20-footers on the 18th hole at Augusta — watch their smiles, their fist pumps, and their celebrations with their parents, and just try to NOT get goose bumps.
Yes, some professional will live out a dream this afternoon and become the 2016 Masters Champion. But I honestly don’t know if he’ll be as truly happy as some of those kids I watched on Monday.
And for that, Augusta National somehow rises to yet another plateau. Visited only by those participants lucky enough to compete there this week — and in the thousands of minds of today’s 10-year-olds. Making their own putts to beat a guy named Tiger and win their own Green Jacket.
Jonah Karzmer is a former golf professional who writes a golf column for The Vindicator. In his spare time he sells commercial insurance and loves getting feedback on his weekly columns via email at Jonah@thekarzmerinsurance.com.