The Masters: An Anachronism Like No Other

April13/ 2015

It’s slogan has become a punchline.   The event itself has become Sports’ #1 annual anachronism.   Never has it been more anachronistic than it was this past weekend.    It is The Masters.  A high % of regular readers of this website likely watched at least Sunday’s final round if not the entire event.   I did.

Uh, BobLee, what does “anachronism” mean?

Anachronism (from the Greek ἀνά ana, “against” and χρόνος khronos, “time”), is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of person(s), events, objects, or customs from different periods of time. The most common type of anachronism is an object misplaced in time.augusta_national_clubhouse

I watch The Masters every year.   I have visited Augusta National Golf Club (not “country club”) on four different occasions during Masters week.  Like anyone who has done so, I have stood in all the places one is supposed to stand to take in the essence and majesty of the historic setting.   I have eaten a pimento cheese sandwich wrapped in dark-green tissue and I have witnessed the choreography of the mowers coming down the ninth fairway.   I have stood under the massive live oak by the putting green and stood on the shore of Ike’s Pond where they found Clifford Roberts’ body in 1977.

It is the constancy of the setting that is the foundation for that “Tradition Like No Other”.

As I often lament, the relentless evolution of the American socio-cultural landscape is nowhere better (??) demonstrated than in our sports “traditions”.   Whether it is the length of basketball shorts and baseball pants or PEDS and instant replay; sports “traditions” have the life span of a Caribbean sunset.   You gather on the beach to watch and marvel at its beauty then “BLINK”; it (the sun) falls off the horizon and is gone.   You are left with your mental image.

Like that Caribbean sun, which will set again 24 hours later, The Masters returns each April.   Patrons who make an annual pilgrimage to golf’s mecca on Washington Road, may argue whether the azaleas were more dazzling back in 1969 or when Jack won in 1986 or last year, but their devotion to the place and time is rock-solid.

The Masters certainly has its critics.   In some cases the criticism is justified.  The stodgy “rich white men” who are “Augusta National” (and who say “too-nament” rather than tour-nament) are not exactly the point of the spear for socio-cultural evolution.   Eventually they do evolve albeit begrudgingly.   It would be a safe bet that the % of Augusta National members who “tweet” is well below the national average.   It is not inconceivable that the name “Kardashian” was not uttered within the confines of Augusta National’s clubhouse last week, if ever.

I enjoy watching the gallery at The Masters.   It is golf’s equivalent to “the lower level” of Dean’s Dome.   One cannot swing a hybrid without hitting a lawyer or a financial planner or a 3rd generation member of whatever country club is considered the “old money club” in any city within 250 miles.   Wanna bet the phrase “The Master’s Way” has been uttered a few times.  Ouch!

How the gallery dresses for the occasion has also evolved over the decades.  It has not sunk to the depths of airline travel (thankfully) but has certainly taken on a casualness that Mr Clifford Roberts would find quite objectionable.   Mr Roberts found a lot about society objectionable.   Mr Roberts was the quintessential curmudgeon.

Enough about “The Tradition” lets talk about the past week in the life and travels of Jim Nantz.

Last Monday, Jim was at courtside in Eeeeevil Indiana lamenting one-and-dones and consistently inconsistent officiating and Coach K’s place in the pantheon of college basketball coaching.   Jim Nantz’s journey from Lucas Oil Dome to Butler Cabin was 647 miles overland but hardly in the same universe.

Two more culturally diverse events within a seven-day period are hard to imagine.

The Masters was won this year by an engaging polite young man from Dallas named Jordan Spieth.

The key to spelling his last name correctly is that old ditty about “i before e except after c or in words like neighbor and weigh….”.

I don’t follow the PGA Tour nearly as closely as I did 15-20 years ago.  I stopped playing the game about 15 years ago and my business relationship with pro golf has moved on.   I had however heard of Jordan Spieth prior to last Thursday.   I knew he was the leader of the Tour’s new breed of “young guns”.   Depending upon one’s definition of “young”, Jordan Spieth IS Golf’s Young Gun.

My personal appreciation for Jordan Spieth likely mirrors most of you.   Alas, that “people like me and you” like it when a Jordan Spieth is atop the sports world means that some people won’t like it at all.  Such is the socio-cultural media-enflamed combat zone known as America 2015.  It’s not likely that Hillary Clinton will be angling for a photo op with Jordan…. if you get my drift.

The “mainstream media” and its bastard child – sports media – will begrudgingly acknowledge Jordan Spieth his due…. for as short a period of time as possible.  As a privileged white man he represents the worst nightmare of a faction of America terminally obsessed with political correctness.  Go suck an egg media.

Jordan doesn’t display Bible verses on his golf bag nor did he kneel in prayer before hitting his approach to #13 on Sunday.  But he did attend Jesuit College Prep so I’m pretty sure he’s not Muslim.  The First Muslim Masters’ Champion remains a title unclaimed.jordan-spieths-girlfriend-annie-verret-facebook

I did not know that his girlfriend – Annie Verret – graduated from Texas Tech’s Business School with a 4.0 or that Jordan has a younger sister with “special needs”.   One has to win The Masters for that level of one’s personal life to be on one’s Google’s page.   That Jordan and Annie have been “an item” for some time and appear very annoyingly “normal” has to really piss off a certain tyrannical faction that the media salivates over.   The First Gay Masters’ Champion remains another title unclaimed.

The Family Spieth stepped off a Hallmark card.   Dad Shawn and Mom Chris could be Carl Betz and Donna Reed from The Donna Reed Show.   The country club they belong to in Dallas – Brookhaven CC – was voted #1 Family Country Club in The Metroplex.   YOWSA.   Among the people he hugged as he walked off the 18th green was “Grandpa Bob” and his buddies from high school.

A cute girlfriend, a “Grandpa Bob”, buddies from high school, no visible tattoos AND “a green jacket” too.  Works for me!

As we metaphorically exit Magnolia Lane ‘til next year, we could lament that a sports hero like Jordan Spieth is a rare refreshing ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark and dreary sports universe….. OR:

Realize we also do have Steph Curry, Russell Wilson and Mike Trout.

Sports Heroes….. A Tradition Like No Other.


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