Augusta marks the start of the golfing year for many and lets us dream of the season ahead. But if you strip back the romance, is the US Masters overrated?
Is The Masters Overrated?
The US Masters marks the start of something special for golf fans, especially in the UK. Having endured the dark, cold winter months, spring is suddenly in the air and the promise of getting out on the course becomes more of a reality.
Turning on the TV to see the finely manicured fairways of Augusta National acts as the green light to the start of the season. But does this promise of better times to come cloud the views of spectators? Is The Masters the greatest of the big four or just benefitting from its position as the first Major of the year? Here, we look at some of the arguments against Augusta…
Re-live Danny Willett’s triumph
The Size Of The Field
The Masters boasts the smallest Major field of the year and therefore the weakest. There are 19 different ways to qualify and, while the traditions of past champions and various amateurs being invited add to the appeal of the event, it does mean that the starting list can be diminished. Many PGA Tour events can offer more of the Top 100 players in the world than the annual pilgrimage to Georgia.
You Can’t Watch The Whole Tournament On TV
Augusta National Golf Club has many archaic rules which fascinate and infuriate fans, or should I say ‘patrons’, in equal measure. One of these involves strict limitations on the amount of live coverage allowed. This leads to the crazy situation that after all the hype and build up you can’t actually tune in to see the first groups tee off. The first pairing go out at 1.20pm BST on the Thursday and Friday but coverage doesn’t actually start until 7pm.
Instead you have to make do with kids’ putting competitions and Monty’s musings about what might have been. In the age of 24-hour coverage and analysis, perhaps it’s time for the powers-that-be to relax a few of their more annoying regulations.
The course is set up for birdie opportunities, which makes for exciting golf, but is it the fairest test? The lack of rough and few low-hanging branches mean players are not punished for wayward tee shots in the same way they would be in an Open or US Open. It means it can come down to a short-game competition. This was highlighted last year when Jordan Spieth had a poor tournament from tee to green yet led for the first three rounds thanks to his brilliance with the flat-stick. In fact, he probably would have won if it weren’t for his meltdown at the 12th.
Experience Is Too Critical
There have only ever been three rookie winners at Augusta with two of them coming in the first two years of the tournament, and the third, Fuzzy Zoeller, in 1979. This may be part of the appeal for some but the fact it’s played on the same course each year means that those who have qualified more often are at a huge advantage. This goes some way to explain the recent good showings from the likes of Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples. It might be wonderful for some to see players rolling back the years but does it make for a true test of who’s the best?