AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jim Nantz is always telling us that the Masters has "a tradition unlike any other." Well, no, not really. It has a tradition exactly like the tradition of all the great sports events. Where the Masters is unique is that it has KEPT its tradition.
Here's an example. Now, I'm hoping it wasn't Nantz, though it well may have been, who waxed so enthusiastically at the end of the recent NCAA men's basketball tournament. Someone read copy about the ladder used by Kentucky players as they ascended to cut down the nets in celebration. It was a nice ladder. Metal. Sturdy enough to ensure the safety of Kentucky's future millionaires. The copy reader called the ladder -- I'm not making this up -- "the official ladder of the NCAA tournament." Meaning the ladder people ponied up cash for the mention.
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There is no "official" Masters anything. That's what I mean when I say the Masters has maintained a tradition born with the tournament's creation in 1934. It's about golf, not commerce. It's about the players, not extorting money from television sponsors. It's even about the customers -- Augusta insists on calling them "patrons" -- who are allowed to buy a beer and a sandwich for $4.50. There is no commercial signage on the grounds. None. Nowhere. The soft-drink pulls in the concession stands are blank, rather than offend our sensibilities with the letters C o c a-C o l a.
Another example: I walked out to the 16th tee. I wanted to see the damage done in the night by falling tree limbs. Billy Payne, the club chairman, had promised the damage would be repaired "by day's end." There were four large patches of rubber molding covering the damaged spots. By day's end, I'm sure, Payne's minions will have the tee looking perfect. Money talks. It'd take God a couple weeks. On the way back, I stopped in a men's room where, as I walked in with a dozen other men, a uniformed Masters employee shouted, "Right this way, gentlemen! Plenty more urinals right this way!"
Never heard anything like that at a Super Bowl.
-- Dave Kindred