It is officially Masters week. But is it your favourite major? Mark Townsend and Alex Perry from National Club Golfer lock horns.
Yes, says Mark Townsend
Most sporting occasions lose quite a lot of their lustre as the years go on. The FA Cup, back in the late ’70s and ’80s, was once upon a time the greatest day of the year with blanket coverage of the big day on both channels. These days I’m not sure I could name the last three winners.
Likewise any Test match. Even basketball on Channel 4 was sensational as a 14-year-old.
These days I struggle to get juiced up for very much. I love the Open Championship and all that goes with it, next the US Open and Ryder Cup and then take your pick. But right at the top of the pile is The Masters which, since 1983, has routinely left me as a whimpering wreck for all four days.
It does help that we have to wait around 250 days since the last major and that we actually know not only the holes but the names of the holes but those first few glimpses of the course and then every last drop of the action is like nothing else.
If I were to be given the chance to play any major course I would head to Augusta National. If I were to be given the chance to watch any major, I would head to Augusta National. Given the chance to watch any major, from the comfort of my sofa, I would switch on The Masters.
It stirs me into remembering the great nights of watching Sandy and Ollie slipping into their Green Jackets and Harry Carpenter and Alex Hay on the veranda. It reminds me of when I was young and my dad and I were dancing round the lounge when Woosie won.
I enjoy all the silliness that goes with it – the honorary starters, the soft music to accompany the scores, the dreadful handing over of the Green Jacket after a nauseating few words with the ‘low amateur’.
The Masters makes me a bit weepy for all sorts of different reasons, it gets me punching the air for all sorts of different reasons.
I love it.
No, says Alex Perry
I love The Masters. Like, really love it. Like, shut down my life for four days love it. As I type this, I have no idea what Mark has written, but he’s definitely said it makes him uncontrollably emotional, hasn’t he? He’s cooed about “Sandy” and “Ollie” and “Woosie”, hasn’t he?
I get that. I really do. In fact, I feel the same, in so many ways – except for Sandy, Ollie and Woosie read Faldo, Tiger, Lefty. But it just doesn’t stir my affections the way the Open Championship does.
The original major, our major, and, perhaps most importantly, the links major. The finest and truest form of golf. The way the game was meant to be played.
I was lucky enough to play the Old Course at St Andrews in 2013, and five years on I still cannot find the words to describe how it made me feel standing on that 1st tee in front of golf’s most famous building. Even just walking down from my hotel and turning onto Golf Place sent shivers down my spine and almost decimated my ability to walk.
Just thinking back to the days when it was blanket coverage from sunrise on Thursday to the final putt on Sunday, days where I would rarely leave the house unless it was to go over to a friend’s to watch the golf, makes me feel a little bit gooey inside.
I’m certain I have earlier memories than this, but the 1990 Open was when my love for golf’s oldest major, for St Andrews, and for the game itself truly began.
Just a couple of months shy of my 8th birthday, we were at my uncle’s hotel on the North Cornwall coast for Sunday lunch. Except I had no interest in eating, I wanted-slash-needed to see if Nick Faldo, my first ever sporting hero, could see out victory. So I snuck off to one of the unoccupied hotel rooms and camped out there for a few hours.
When they found me, my mum, fighting back the tears, held me tightly and told me the whole family was “worried sick” because they didn’t know where I was. They had people combing the beach for me and everything.
I don’t remember if she actually used the phrase “worried sick”, but it’s definitely something she would say.
It was completely worth it. Sorry mum. Can I have a yellow Pringle sweater for my birthday?
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.