Okay, sports fans. It is finally here. Spring that is. Next week, we pretty much get this season started with the Big Bang. On Monday, he predicted in advance, we will see Kentucky finish a 40-0 season and win the NCAA men’s basketball championship. One need not be a fan of Big Blue to take a minute and recognize greatness when it happens. If they lose, you all can laugh out loud at my stupidity. My children would be the first to let you know, it is not the first time.
Then, two things happen that can only be called blessings. The Major League Baseball season commences. Sure, we start it late enough to assure the World Series will be played in the frigid cold if any team north of Florida or east of California is in it. Still, what makes baseball so wonderful for a lot of us is its “every dayness.”
From April through the end of September, no matter how bad your team is, at least they are playing baseball virtually every day on the calendar. What’s better than sitting on the porch with your beverage of choice (and perhaps even a cigar), listening to the home team fight to get a win? Spring gives way to summer, and save for a handful of miserable evenings where the humidity is high and wind not to be found, the games become even more fun to enjoy.
Most important of all, next week is a near religious experience for anyone who follows golf at all. Next week is Masters Week. Starting on Thursday, fans of “a good walk spoiled” (as Mark Twain once described the game) will be treated to the history, tradition, and beauty of Augusta National. It is interesting that the first day (April 9) is Appomattox Day (when General Lee surrendered to General Grant). Given the emphasis on all things politically correct, I’ll refrain from any other description of that date.
What makes the Masters such a unique tournament is that for those of us who love the game, we know the course hole-by-hole. This is true for people who have never set foot on the grounds. On that score, if you ever get the chance to walk the course, get there as fast as you can. It is impossible to fully understand the changes in slopes, the beauty, and the intimacy of Augusta from afar. Most of all, for those who play, the course will remind you of an old fashioned country club. When this realization came to me, at first I thought it was some sort of revelation. Then, I was reminded again of what a dope I am. After all, what else could it be, since it was opened before golf carts were invented.
Come Sunday, millions will be riveted to a television screen at home, at a pub, or at their local course. We will hold our breath as they go around Amen Corner. When the leaders get to 15 (the last of the par five’s), we hold our breath to see if our favorite makes as little as a three (Eagle) or seven (double bogey—a score I am all too familiar with). We will watch to see who can play the slope on 16 (a par three). What happens on the closing par four’s with pins in their “traditional Sunday location” (no bargains). A winner will emerge and put on the treasured Green Jacket. All will be well.
No matter what else happens next week, we will likely go to bed on Sunday with a smile on our faces. A NCAA basketball champion will be crowned. The first pitches of the long and wonderful baseball season will be thrown. And, what makes golf so wonderful will be etched into our memories once again.
Okay, complain about what you will, but there are weeks when it is pretty great to be alive. Next week is one of them. Enjoy.