"This is where God hangs out." - Mac O'Grady, on Augusta National
"I always said that if they have a golf course like this in heaven, I want to be the head pro." - Gary Player
"If the Masters offered no money at all, I would be here trying just as hard." - Ben Hogan
The Sunday Scaries Bracket Championship falling over Masters Week was probably the perfect storm for Golf Courses to overtake Matthew McConaughey, but I don't think anyone's complaining. Golf courses offer a combination of insurmountable characteristics that create a perfect non-Scary storm. Open air, well-manicured lawns, picturesque tree and water features, quiet, and a mind game that distracts you from thinking about the everyday grind. Whether it's the lazy beer runs at the turn or hitting a few extra shoeless drives off your favorite tee box while nobody is watching, a golf course offers an unrivaled dynamic that no other locale can touch.
On the course, the distractions of the real world fall by the wayside, no matter your skill level. Larry David stated in his 2011 New Yorker piece, "Finally, after years of pain and struggle, I had accepted the fact that I would never be a good golfer." And at some point during every round, every golfer has the acceptance that hitting the perfect shot isn't as paramount as having a great cart dynamic with the rest of your group or gaining camaraderie through over-analyzing a shot with your partner during a grudge match between friends. It's about as non-Scary as non-Scary can get.
But The Masters. The overlying tranquility that you can't help but get caught up in. Jim Nantz's calming commentary. Dave Loggins' "Augusta", the piano and acoustic-driven theme of the tournament. The chirps and ribbits during that moment where you think, "wait, this shot might go in!" Magnolia Lane. Hogan Bridge. Ike's Pond.
Every year, my family congregates and watches together. While my mom cheers on Phil, my cousins cheer for Freddy and Rory, respectively. Me? Tiger. Come Sunday, everyone has a horse in the race with an emotional investment that makes you wonder if any particular golfer is somehow a part of our extended family. It's a waiting game for that moment that you'll always remember as being the signature shot of the tournament. No matter who you are, every golf fan has their favorite Masters moment. Whether it was Jack in '86, Tiger in '05, or Phil in '10 -- you have your moment.
We make pimento cheese (or deviled eggs, if it falls on Easter). We open the windows. We shush the people in the kitchen who are somehow not talking about The Masters. We live and die with every ebb and flow of the tournament. It's an amalgamation of time-honored traditions that compliment the same time-honored traditions that make The Masters what it is.
I, personally, can't put my finger on what it exactly is about The Masters that makes it so spectacular year-in and year-out. It could be anything - the location, the competition, the marketing, the first signifier that spring has arrived and the dog days of summer are finally within reach. But, whatever it is, there's something about The Masters that puts it head and shoulders above every other sporting event, from the Super Bowl to the Kentucky Derby. At the end of the day, it doesn't even matter. Sunday at The Masters is, and will forever be, the least Scary Sunday of the year. And that's enough for me.