Hey, maybe it was a budget-cut tiling. Save on the crystal, pass the savings on to the membership. Masters chairman Hootie Johnson: "Gentlemen, I have an announcement: We finally saved up enough for the halfpipe!"
But what's insane isn't just how they've turned the back nine into the Augusta city morgue. It's how they're also trying to turn the Masters into the Buick Open.
This tournament used to be unique, remember? Win a PGA Tour event, and you were automatically in the Masters. (Not anymore.) Players went off in twosomes, never threesomes. (Not anymore.) There used to be new pairings every day. (Not anymore.) The course was known for its gorgeous, unfettered expanses of rolling football-field fairways without a speck of rough. (Not anymore.) It had the look and feel and joy of a place found nowhere else on earth. (Not anymore.)
I guess it's progress, but I don't go to Augusta for progress. I go to see young Sergio Garc�a roam the same course young Gene Sarazen roamed. I go to see greenkeepers pruning history. I go to Augusta to stop time, not to worry about keeping up with it. They say it's progress. Well, hey, why stop there? Let's put railroad ties on 12. A Starbucks on the veranda. Why not gobble up some land across town, build us a TPC at Augusta Springs and move the Masters there?
"Do they do things here that I wouldn't do? Yes," Jack Nicklaus said last Saturday night. "Is this the Augusta we played? No. Is this the Augusta we won on? No, not even close. Does it take away the flavor of Augusta? Yes. Is it what Bobby Jones had in his mind? No way. Not even close. But does it matter what I think? No, it doesn't."
Actually, I think it matters a whole lot what a man who has played 41 Masters thinks. I also think it matters a whole lot what the fans think, and from what I could hear, they were either bored to a flat line or had their larynxes removed at the gate. I also think it matters a whole lot what kind of winners the new Augusta has bred since the Tiger-proofing. Good players—Jos� Mar�a Olaz�bal, Vijay Singh—but legends? No, not even close.
That's the thing to be worried about. Augusta used to give us legends. Augusta used to give us thrills. Augusta used to give us unforgettable Sundays. (Not anymore.)
Yeah, well, you know what they say. The Masters ends on the back nine on Sunday.