This Masters Tradition (Like No Other) Should Not Be Broken


After a long day at work, I came home today and turned on my old friend, ESPN. I was instantly drawn in – not by the overdone highlights or talking heads – but by a well-produced special on the 25th anniversary of Jack Nicklaus’ Masters gem.

Son Jackie, who was on the bag that memorable Sunday, narrated the well-produced piece. I was taken back to that warm, sunny day in 1986 when I watched the tournament with my Dad. Jack shocked the sports world – and hooked me on the Masters – and golf – forever.

I tweeted about the ESPN program, which got me thinking about the PGA’s recent effort to make the game more fan-friendly by allowing cell phones on the course and embracing social media. It was a good move and a bit overdue, especially since fans have been tuning out the game for a variety of reasons. TV ratings dropped by a third at golf’s most recent major championship – last year’s PGA Champisonship.

I also thought how amazing the experience would have been at Augusta National in 1986, with the ability to take photos on the course and share them with friends, family and the world. What a memory.

Then I realized how awful that would be, actually. And I was suddenly glad for old traditions and stuffy rules. I wouldn’t want the Masters experience spoiled by thousands of cell phones and millions of tweets from fans, when actually you’re not a fan when attending the Masters. You’re a Patron. And Patrons must live up to a certain standard. They should follow tradition.

Yep, this social media nut, who loves to harp on teams and leagues and players about how bad they are at embracing this new medium, is completely turned off by the thought of a social media-infused Augusta National.

Some traditions are meant to be kept, and the “tradition like no other” fits into this rare category of exception. As incredible as it would be to tweet to the world shots of Tiger or Phil teeing off from No. 16 (my favorite hole at Augusta), I’m glad it’s not possible today. I hope it stays this way for generations to come.

“The Masters is about a certain formality and rigidity that is missing in most of our lives,” famed Masters announcer Verne Lundquist told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. “People crave that sort of thing.”

Plaschke punctuated the thought with his own argument for tradition:

You might think that the sophisticated American sports fan would grow bored of this, but it’s quite the opposite. We embrace this. We hunger for this. The Masters remains one of America’s most beloved sporting events perhaps because it is everything we used to be, reflecting a simpler type of sporting culture that will never exist again.

You can get your fill of the Masters by watching TV (especially if you’re a DirecTV customer). Or try the Masters website. And socially, plug into some of the active tour players, who are already posting some great content from this Georgia gem.

But keep the Masters as it is today. As it was 25 years ago. And 50 years ago. Social media will survive. But the Masters wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for tradition.

Thanks for being a fan.