Tom Ross: A Masters tournament for the ages
April 11, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Can you imagine what the Masters golf tournament would look like if it was taken over by the guys who run NASCAR?
The best golfers in the world would abandon the time-honored tradition of walking the fairways, and instead they would zoom around the course in gaudy golf carts with souped-up motors and emblazoned with corporate logos.
After the winner putted out at the 18th hole, he would stride over to the TV reporter and drawl, "Ya know, the No. 90 Jiffy Lube, Jiffy Peanut Butter Chevy really performed for us out there today."
The tournament could be renamed the Super Target Masters and CBS might be freed up to superimpose the Target logo on the cup at every green in much the same way that first down lines are superimposed on football fields.
Professional golf is missing out on a ton of sponsorship opportunities. For beginners, golfers are allowed only a modest corporate logo on their caps and visors. Their caps read Ping or Calloway or the name of an unknown Australian golf resort. The big shots proudly wear the Nike swoosh.
If this were NASCAR, the golfers and their caddies would be wearing coveralls studded with embroidered patches for everything from STP to Skoal. OK, make it everything from Cialis to Lexus.
Enough silliness. Sunday's broadcast reached new heights with unparalleled drama, exceptional directing and the usual never-never land quality of the meticulously groomed course. The experience of watching the Masters for long stretches, without the flow being constantly interrupted by a TV commercial as the typical NFL game is, was refreshing.
The Masters allowed only four minutes of commercials every 60 minutes on Sunday.
I loved Sunday's broadcast of the Masters, and I don't love golf.
I've always looked forward to the tournament and cannot recall ever being disappointed with the product on that impeccably green grass. But there continue to be reasons to be disappointed in the private golf club that hosts the event.
The Augusta National Golf Club has been criticized in the past for not being diverse in its membership.
What I saw on TV Sunday was a tournament and a gallery that is enthusiastically accepting of an increasingly international and diverse field. And yet there continue to be disturbing signs that Augusta National still has strides to make if it is to keep up with society in term of inclusiveness.
CNN reported Monday that a credentialed reporter with The Bergen (New Jersey) Record tried to join other reporters Sunday evening in the club's locker room to conduct interviews, but was turned away by a (female) security guard who said she couldn't come in because she was a woman.
Club officials later apologized for what they said was a mistake — female reporters have been granted full access for years, they said. I guess I'll take their word for it.
But women continue to be denied membership to Augusta National. And that's a shame. I mean, NASCAR welcomes women drivers, right?
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com