Spring in our steps
R. Jerome Ferraro

Sure, everyone loves spring, but it's different for you and me. It simply means more to us than it does to most people.

Because we're golfers.

Think about it. What other popular sport is so closely tied to the season?(Baseball?When was the last time you played a quick nine innings?) I'll concede that anglers may be as passionate about April as we are, but of the many other activities that require the arrival of nicer weather, how many connect you so intimately to the glories for which spring is famous: the greening grass, the budding trees, the gusting breezes?

Along with improved prospects for play (especially up north), springtime has long meant the return of the Masters, once considered the unofficial start of the PGA Tour year. This year's tournament, claims writer Mike Lupica, may be the best in decades. And like Mike's interview subject, Vijay Singh, I can't wait.

I will admit, however, that today it's a stretch to call the Masters the "start" of anything. Professional golf doesn't have a season anymore. It takes up the entire year.

There are legitimate reasons for that. Those guys are good. And the money is there: the television money, the sponsorship dough and the cash that fills local coffers when a tournament comes to town (not to mention that raised for charity).

So spring isn't quite as loaded with meaning as it used to be. And, yes, sometimes I feel a little nostalgia for the old days. Back when there was less round-the-clock golf on the tube, the winter months somehow held a more heightened sense of anticipation. Off-season trips were a little more thrilling. Reading a good golf book was slightly more satisfying. I guess what I'm saying is that anticipation is a defining aspect of the game, and should be savored—whether you're waiting for the Masters, planning a trip or watching your partner tap in before you attempt a nasty birdie putt.

As I write this a foot of snow is falling. So what?Only seventy days until Augusta!

John Atwood