Skip to content

C’mon boys, it’s golf, not a coronation

April 7, 2023

If any sporting event could be said to be up its own backside, it’s The Masters, which started yesterday. Not the golf course, which is magnificent, nor the talent on display, which is simply the best. More the puffed-up dignitaries in green jackets who run the show. Since 1934, when The Masters began, these Southern gents have presided over the prissy rules and precious nomenclatures that they call tradition.

For me, tradition grows up over centuries, not decades. The good ole boys from Augusta, Georgia should look at Britain’s forthcoming coronation, whose fundamentals go back centuries, if they want an example of real tradition.

Instead, they obsess about spectators (oh sorry, “patrons”) not being allowed to run on the course. You get your lunch not from food stalls but from “concessionaires”. If you’re a club member, you commit an unforgivable sin if you fail to wear your green jacket at all times during Masters Week.

This is a club that only accepted women members in 2012, and one of whose founders was reported as saying that “as long as he lived” the caddies will be black and the golfers white. Those days have gone, but many of its curious quirks remain.

The strangest thing is that the golfers, the media and the “patrons” go along with this nonsense. Even the advertisers get in on the reverential act, with Rolex the perennial winners of the pomposity prize for their toe-curling message that extols the god-like virtues of the golfing elite.

What the old buffers call tradition is, for me, the dark side of a game I love. We British have our little ways as well. Clubs that pin your CV to a noticeboard when you apply to be a member. That insist that you play a round with the captain to make sure he likes the cut of your jib. Photos of former captains glowering at you from wood-panelled walls. Officious committee members enjoying the only moment of power in their underachieving lives. Peppery old colonels ruling the roost as club secretaries.

Not all golf clubs are like that, of course. Mine is friendly and informal. But I’ve played at some places where the Groucho rule most definitely doesn’t apply. Yes, I wouldn’t want to be a member, but they wouldn’t have me anyway. The Augusta National definitely falls into that category.

But maybe it would be kinder to describe their silly customs as quaint. And there are certainly plenty of people who revel in belonging to an exclusive society.

Just not me. It’s just a game. It’s exercise. It’s about self-discipline, even though that’s a quality I sadly lack.

For all that, I would do well to remember that rituals and rules make the world go round, so this bitchy little tirade probably says more about me than it does about The Masters. And for the next few days I for one I will be glued to the telly as the world’s greatest golf tournament plays out.

From → History, Social, Sport, UK, USA

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply