Loren Smith’s Column: Masters Week
Published 10:02 am Tuesday, April 4, 2023
AUGUSTA – This has been an eventful week at the Augusta National
Golf Club with rain or the threat of rain accompanying the competition for a
Green Jacket on one of the classic golf courses in the world.
When Augusta is blessed with compatible spring weather, there can
be no greater surroundings with which to mix and mingle physically and
emotionally. You feel that you are in an outdoor cathedral; a shrine to
nature where the flora reflects glory and grandeur to match the dramatic
Nothing like a Masters Sunday when sunshine and benign breezes
envelope the stunning acreage that once was a nursery. You don’t have to
be a golf fan to appreciate what was also an indigo plantation with rolling
hill and the embrace of a romantic creek.
When you walk the course, you are never far from nature’s
remarkable offerings. Stop and take it all in and you might be moved to
sing out, “Hallelujah!” Was there divine intervention that allowed the
greatest amateur golfer of all time, Robert Tyre Jones, to discover this
extraordinary piece of property before a real estate developer found it?
The Augusta National Golf Club is the greatest golf course to host an
annual major golf championship without multimillion dollar homes
surrounding the footprint of the property.
Fans, who would literally die for a Masters ticket for the entire week,
are not immune to nature’s offerings and the splendor of the layout where
the life expectancy of a spent cigarette is five minutes or less. You can
hear them marvel at what they are inhaling visually.
The Augusta National is not only the most spectacularly scenic place,
only rivaled by Pebble Beach when it comes to golf, it is maintained with
the best tender loving care, as kempt and orderly as the grounds of
Chenonceaux or Chateau de Villandry. It is a haven for encores. You
never get enough of this remarkable place of ultimate places to visit.
Having the good fortune to have not only covered the Masters for
decades, there was the enriching experience of playing the course.
Naturally, I wanted to play well, but was content to walk the fairways with a
deep and abiding affection for where I was.
Over the years, I have been favored with an opportunity to interview
many of the Masters champions, and they all, unsolicited, proffered rapt
testimony to the resplendence of the golf course and the integrity of the
Seve Ballesteros loved coming to Augusta early to practice. He told
me one year that Augusta reminded him of his coastal home in Santander,
Spain. “I love to hear the birds singing here,” he said. “I love all the flowers
and the trees. It reminds me of my home back in Santander.” He
conceded in one conversation that the environs of Augusta inspired him to
play his best.
I’ve heard many of the great professional’s pontificate on the beauty
of Augusta from Arnold Palmer to Jack Nicklaus to Gene Sarazen to Byron
Nelson to Sam Snead.
Television cannot possibly do justice to Amen Corner when the
Azaleas are at peak for the tournament. Down at Amen Corner, there is an
extraordinary amphitheater of blooms around the 12th green and the 13 th
tee. Fans are simply mesmerized by the scene.