Global economic woes have affected just about everybody and everything, which makes me wonder if it could influence course setup at the Masters. Spectator sports provide a necessary distraction from stress and worry—it was during the Great Depression that sports really came of age. Few events can outdo the Masters at bringing thrills and excitement to a great number of people, if only the course would be set up in a certain way. The alternative is four days of grim-faced golfers hitting the safest possible shots.
What I hope for at Augusta is a course setup that switches the players on. When the caddie backs away you want some adrenaline flowing in the player’s veins. That’s what leads to career shots and amazing birdies and sends roars through the pines. At Augusta, it also leads to double-bogeys, depending on whether the shot is pulled off or not. There shouldn’t be any fear about the course getting beat up and scores being too low. It’s a shame that the final-round 67 I shot to win the ’96 Masters has been matched by only one winner since then—Mark O’Meara, way back in 1998. When we shot those Sunday 67s, and when Jack Nicklaus closed with a 65 in 1986, no one said it was bad for the tournament. Players in a Masters field possess a vast repertoire of shots, but are we seeing it?Are we seeing the guts and guile that championship golf is all about?In such hard times, it would be nice for golf to bring some joy to the world.