For many golf fans, the Masters is the most important tournament of the year. For others it may be the Open or the US Open, but what there’s no doubt about is that the tournament that takes place every year at the Augusta National has many special things that make it unique.
The Masters is the only major tournament that takes place every year in the same scenery, a golf course that is taken care of so comprehensively that it’s hard to imagine. Everything around the Masters is designed for the spectators and viewers to enjoy the show, but if there’s one thing that makes this tournament so special, that is that once a player wears the winner’s green jacket, he earns the honour of playing that tournament for the rest of his life, whereas in other tournaments that privilege is only for the next 10 years.
Augusta National is a golf course that has been changed in order to adapt it to modern golf distances, but those who have had the lucky chance of playing a Masters take the same conclusions: the perfect knowledge of its greenes, of the whirly wind of some of it holes and many other little details is what you need to have the chance of winning in Augusta National. That knowledge can only be acquired by playing many rounds on a course as demanding as the Augusta National when the greenkeepers have prepared it for the Masters. Many players don’t even like practicing the previous days, as the conditions of the course on wednesday are completely different of what you will find on thursday.
That’s why it shouldn’t surprise us seeing old champions fighting for the victory until the very last moment. Players that would not have qualified for the tournament if they wouldn’t have been invited, like Bernard Langer, Ángel Cabrera or Fred Couples in 2013.
Probably their best days as golfers have already passed, they don’t hit the ball as hard as in their best times or as the new players of the tour, but they have every inch of every green in the Augusta National in their mind, they know which recoveries are not possible or which flag positions you have to resign to in order not to fall in the same excesses of bravery that youth made them fall into.
Each year, younger players go through the first tee of Augusta National. They are stronger, they hit the ball harder and even more straight than latter winners of the first major of the year. Player whose swing has evolved as new technologies have been incorporated to golf learning, like Trackman or biomechanical analysis. They are more athletic compared to many of the Masters’ winners, due to their hard training on the gym.
These young players reach further, are more in shape, have better technique… however, old winners have something incompatible with youth: experience. Only three rookies have won the Masters in all time, and the last one to do so was Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979.