Bob Bestler

Bob Bestler | Memories made at the Masters

On the Loose

Tiger Woods, left, leads his son Charlie, daughter Sam and partner Lindsey Vonn past the azaleas toward the ninth green during the Par 3 contest on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga.
Tiger Woods, left, leads his son Charlie, daughter Sam and partner Lindsey Vonn past the azaleas toward the ninth green during the Par 3 contest on Wednesday, April 8, 2015, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. TNS

My personal introduction to the Masters Tournament -- a tradition “unlike any other,”' in the words of Jim Nantz -- came as a reporter in 1990.

It was a weekend filled with memories:

Walking onto the grounds carrying a McDonald's coffee cup and immediately being asked to transfer the contents into a green cup lest anything but Masters green show up on the golf course;

Sitting alone on No. 13, surrounded by azaleas and reading a Sunday paper before the gates opened to the general public;

Watching Raymond Floyd put his second shot on No. 11 into a pond and sealing a playoff loss to a foreigner named Nick Faldo.

My most lasting memory, though, came on No. 1 tee on the second day of the tournament.

A journeyman named Mike Daniel led the field after Day One on the strength of a stunning 64.

And now Lee Trevino, on the tee, could not let that feat go without a few words.

Trevino, a Latino, always had a stormy relationship with the people who ran the tournament because of their racial policies.

He reportedly refused to go in the clubhouse, preferring to change his shoes in the parking lot.

Fact is, he also didn't like the golf course. Augusta National always favored a draw, not Trevino's natural right-handed fade.

So he didn't much care whose ox he gored and on this day, his final appearance at Augusta National, he took center stage on the No. 1 tee box.

Comedy Cabana never had a more entertaining show, which went something like this:

“I was in bed last night when I heard fire sirens.

“I looked out the window and saw they were burning the greens.

“Yes sir, they were burning the greens. They don't want anyone shooting a 64 on their course.

“Another 64 and they'll be putting the flagsticks in the bunkers.”

It was hilarious stuff and the fans -- excuse me, patrons -- loved it.

But that likely was the last time anyone made fun of Augusta National -- another way of saying there will never be another Lee Trevino.

The people who run the tournament still insist on a certain decorum, almost to the point of silliness -- hence the banishment of the witty Gary McCord for saying the greens were “bikini-waxed'” and commentator Jack Whitaker for referring to a “mob'” of fans -- excuse me, patrons.

For most of its existence, the people who ran the Masters insisted that all caddies be African-Americans and wear white coveralls -- a racial relic that lasted way beyond the civil rights years of the 1960s.

In recent years, though, Augusta National has finally tried to catch up with history.

Golfers can bring their own caddies, although they still wear white coveralls. And, most importantly, it has admitted to its high-powered membership African-Americans since 1990 and three women, including Condoleezza Rice.

And of course it has bestowed a green jacket on Tiger Woods four times, and anyone who loves golf has to respect what he has done.

Despite its murky past, Augusta National and its Masters Tournament remain without peer, both in beauty and difficulty.

For golfers everywhere, The Masters is the first true sign that spring is here. I would add that its back nine on Sunday is the first real tournament of the year.

We're halfway through the 2015 edition. Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.

Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds.net.

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