Golf

This is the one thing that really stinks about the Masters golf tournament

Tiger Woods appears to be back. Phil Mickelson is winning again.

And yes, it's happening just in time for the Masters.

With that all said, we're all in store for some must-see TV, right? Well, sort of.

There's not a lot of bad things you can say about the Masters, but I have one - and it's a big one: The TV coverage is inadequate.

And it's by design.

Augusta National does not allow full television coverage of golf's first major and premier event during the first two rounds. Why, you might ask? Because it can.

I've long wondered why such an anticipated event isn't televised in full. Yet, I never really took the time to look into it. As a casual golf fan, it was never that important to me.

But now, with the intrigue of Tiger and Phil and all the other talented players who have come to age since those two went missing, I have a great curiosity as to how the tournament will play out. Therefore, I decided to look into the reasoning behind Augusta National's reluctance to allow broadcast of the tourney in its entirety.

According to Sports Illustrated, Augusta National blocks us from watching in order to protect its brand. The aura and mystery of the place must be maintained, SI explains.

Oh, just stop.

The tournament loses money by limiting TV coverage and apparently it's OK with that. Its ego is more important. I get it. You must protect your legacy - you know, the one that didn't allow female members until 2012?

It's a golf course, for goodness sake.

I understand the idea of protecting the integrity of the course by being private and not allowing just anyone to play there. But we're not even allowed to watch people play on TV?

Golf's die-hard fans might just be OK with that. Heck, they may even agree with it.

But it's important to remember that there are casual fans out there. The more you turn them off, the more the sport's broader appeal will suffer (think NASCAR).

I know, it's not like this Augusta National TV policy is anything new. It wasn't until 1982 that any of the tournament's first two rounds were even broadcast, and it took until 2002 to telecast a full 18 holes of the leaders on Sunday.

Augusta National has become more active on the Internet over the past decade, and now provides live feeds from Amen Corner and holes 15 and 16, and of featuredgroups that we can assume will include Tiger and/or Phil on Thursday and Friday before the television broadcast begins. But why not just let us watch it on our televisions?

Augusta, we have a problem. I just went to Google Earth and now have seen all of the mysterious course and all its secrets. Uh oh.

For some reason, I get this anxious feeling that I'm going to go home tonight and find CIA-looking agents waiting for me, only to load me into the back of a limo, never to be seen again. It seems like there's some kind of conspiracy going on here.

Well, hopefully it's just my imagination going wild.

So, if I'm not kidnapped for my dangerous cat-and-mouse game with Augusta National, I guess I'll tune in at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday to catch Tiger and many others toward the end of their rounds. How exciting?

Maybe one day Augusta National will come down to earth and we'll be able to watch the whole tournament.

The club has allowed female members for just six years now, so it's obviously slow in catching up to today's world.

Maybe one day. But for now, unfortunately, it's a tradition like no other.

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