Bobby Jones and The Masters

Masters week is here which means Christmas-morning-like excitement for golfers world-wide.

The Masters Tournament is the best viewing experience in sports, there’s no question. What makes it the venue, experience, and tradition like no other? The legacy of Bob Jones.

There’s a reason Bobby Jones’ polite portrait is displayed in the locker rooms of Peachtree Golf Club, East Lake Golf Course, Merion Golf Club, Augusta National Golf Club, and hundreds of clubs throughout the world. The game of golf is played by the most powerful men in the world: money, power, and achievement is attained by many players of our sport. However, earning our society’s highest accomplishments while maintaing humility, tact, and grace was never performed better than Bob Jones. No CEO, politician, or athlete will ever achieve Mr. Jones’ status in society while maintaining his level of humility. It’s impossible to put in words.

Pictures and his words are all we have now.

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Costliest Rulings in Golf – # 1. Roberto De Vicenzo:1968 Masters

Mistakes are a part of human beings. Professional golfers are no exceptions to it when it comes to playing by the rules. Some due to ignorance and some just out of oversight. Unfortunately the history of golf has seen several such instances – at times small mistakes costed some players even a tournament. That said, ignorance is not a bliss, at least in golf. Here is a new series from our Scratch Pad desk covering such instances – Costliest Rulings in Golf.

# 1.  Roberto De Vicenzo:1968 Masters

Roberto De Vicenzo is the greatest golfer South America has ever produced with 230 tournaments and 8 PGA tours under his belt. But he is remembered not just for what he won, also for what he lost. Yes, you read that right! History always remembers the winners, 1968 masters tournament is an exception.

Roberto De Vicenzo was in mid 40s at the 1968 masters and had just won the British Open the same year. He was in complete control of his game at Augusta and shot a magnificent 65 in the final round to tie Bob Goalby for first place. But something dramatic happened then. Tommy Aaron, his playing partner and who kept De Vicenzo’s score, mistakenly put down a four for the 17th hole instead of a birdie three, which was De Vicenzo’s actual score. De Vicenzo didn’t catch the error and signed it. When he did that, he signed for a 66 instead of a 65, handing the 1968 Masters to Bob Goalby by default and settling with a second place.

Grief-stricken on his mistake, De Vicenzo then uttered what has become one of the most famous quotes in golf, “What a stupid I am!”.

Below is the final leaderboard of the 1968 masters,

Here is what rule of Golf (6-6d) says,

The competitor is responsible for the correctness of the score recorded for each hole on his score card. If he returns a score for any hole lower than actually taken, he is disqualified. If he returns a score for any hole higher than actually taken, the score as returned stands.

“For me, the Masters hasn’t ended,” De Vicenzo told Golf Digest in a 2006 interview. “Technically, the ending was legal. But there is something missing. The winner hasn’t yet emerged. It lacks an ending. Someday, maybe in another place, it will be decided” he adds.

De Vicenzo never won another major. Tommy Aaron went on to win the 1973 Masters, where, ironically, he caught a mistake on his scorecard made by his playing partner. Well, that’s a perfect example for learning from the past.

Freddie and Me: Interview with Tripp Bowden

I’m convinced there are not enough golf books in this world. Millions of fantastic golf stories are untold because they were never journaled. Fortunately for the golf world, Tripp Bowden chronicled his experience as one of the first white caddies at Augusta National Golf Club. His book, Freddie and Me, takes the reader inside the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club and tells stories from the club with Freddie Bennett — the revered caddie master of 30+ years — as the focal point.

Freddie and Me touched on many of life’s greater observations. Tripp was kind enough to answer my follow up questions about Freddie, the course, and golf. Continue reading

Luckiest Golf Shots Ever?

We’re starting a new competition on the Scratch Pad – luckiest and best golf shots ever. We’ll post two competing shots and you let us know which ones you think is best. Or if you think you have a better one, point us to it.

For this round, we have two competing shots – one from the PGA and one from the European tour; one in a tournament, and one in a practice round; both involving water.

First up, Darren Clarke on a long par 5:

Next up, Vijay Singh on a short par 3:

So, whom would you vote for?

How To Get Masters Tickets?

“Having tickets to The Masters is the best dowry a wife could have in the South.” Those were the exact words exchanged in a brief conversation I had with a young lady late last week. She’s right – as of 2000, there is no direct way to get Masters badges to the tournament. That said, with the tournament coming up next month (April 2-8, 2012) there are some indirect ways to get a hold of tickets and experience the Tournament.

Ten years ago, patrons would get their individual daily badges for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Most of the badges were used by those who originally go them, however too many were traded, exchanged, and sold online. As a result, members began to crack down on this abuse of the system by adapting to the times.  First, they created a single tournament badge. This cut down on the exchange significantly because if you sold your badge for Thursday it was gone for the rest of the week — unless you knew the person using it and they gave it back to you. Further, if you sold your badge to someone who acted inappropriately on the grounds, their (i.e. your) badges would be taken away and you would not receive another one come this time next year.

So how do you grace one of the game’s most hollowed grounds; a place that fosters the sport’s greatest traditions by an organization that advocates its finest lessons? Continue reading

Masters 2010: Changing of the Guard

This was to be the week. Masters 2010 was Tiger’s opportunity to make amends. In his words, he would be more respectful of the game and more appreciative of those who have supported him. Early in the week, a softer Woods was freed up around the press, he was reportedly more generous with the patrons, and he smiled – often. The collective golf world breathed a sigh of relief as the scoreboardbeating heart of our game strolled around the grounds at Augusta with a seemingly contrite and humble outlook on golf and life. Yes, the new Tiger appeared tuned-in to the world outside of his Nike cap. Perhaps he really got it – he’d dragged us all down with him, and now he’d returned to pull us all back up. This was a promising start.

We watched Tiger on Thursday afternoon, and at times we were once again amazed by his golf. But no one ever really questioned his ability to show up and hit a low rope hook around a tree. What we sought was a Tiger we could get behind not for the shotmaking but for the example of reconciliation and humility. For once, we wanted a Tiger that was more than simply an astonishing golfer. But as the week progressed, Tiger regressed. He was back to business as usual in the media room, back to using his cold stare to put distance between him and anyone who might encroach. Then came Sunday afternoon at Amen Corner. Continue reading