Reader rebuts comments that Masters attracts weakest major-championship field, lauds Augusta National's progressive moves
Just a couple of thoughts about some recent comments regarding the quality of the field for the Masters and about Augusta National Golf Club itself (“From the Morning Read inbox,” March 24; March 25; March 29; March 30; April 5).
First, some readers have expressed the opinion that the Masters has the weakest field of golf’s four major championships. Let's take a closer look at some of the ways in which a golfer qualifies for the tournament, as well as a few of the participants who are playing this week.
There are 19 ways by which a player can qualify for the Masters. Some of the examples: top 50 on the final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year; top 50 on the OWGR published during the week before the current Masters; champions of the U.S. Open, PGA and British Open for past five years; winner of past three Players Championships; winners of PGA Tour tournaments that award full-point allocations for the season-ending Tour Championship (Masters to Masters); first 12 players and ties from the previous year's Masters; first four players and ties from the previous year's U.S. Open, British Open and PGA.
Who are just a few of the players who qualified? Tyrrell Hatton, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa, Rory Mcllroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Daniel Berger, Bubba Watson, Abraham Ancer, Jason Day and Shane Lowry. Bottom line: the world's best players. If you are very good, you will have qualified for the Masters. The other majors may have larger fields, but it is pretty much a safe bet those tournaments will be won by one of the players in this year's Masters field. Weakest field of a major? Not in my book. Anyone who knows golf would agree.
Now, a few thoughts on Augusta National Golf Club. There have been some comments regarding Augusta National and some "baggage" that might exist in its past. It’s a road we have been down before, and one that is getting old. If one takes a closer look at Augusta National and what it is/has done to promote and grow the game and in fulfilling its philanthropic and social responsibilities, that person will be hard put to find another private club, much less public, that has done so much.
Just a few of the initiatives that have helped grow the game are their Drive, Chip and Putt Championship for the younger generation; promoting interest in the next generation of golfers in the U.S.; sponsorship of the immensely successful Augusta National Women’s Amateur that was played last weekend; tremendous showcase and boost for women's golf; the funding of two men's golf scholarships in Lee Elder's name at Paine College, a historically Black university in Augusta, and funding for the school to start a women's golf program.
Finally, Augusta National announced in November that the club and its corporate partners were gifting $10 million to revitalize two impoverished urban neighborhoods in Augusta. It was a great demonstration of fulfilling an entity's social responsibility and more. Wouldn't it be nice to see other private clubs step up – such as Hazeltine National Golf Club, just to pick one – and emulate what Augusta National has accomplished in this regard? No wonder that Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch wrote in November that Augusta National has become “arguably the most progressive force in golf."
Not only is the Masters one of the four majors in golf, but it leads the pack by a wide margin. Can't wait for the week to play out.
‘Playing Through’ leaves TV viewer stymied
I watched the fourth round of the Valero Texas Open on DVR delay (“Jordan Spieth finally wins again on road to Masters,” April 5). My quandary is that I want to support the sponsors of televised golf, but the watch-ability of the telecasts is a challenge.
I understand and appreciate that the sponsors have paid millions of dollars that provide the purses for the players and, more importantly, provide ancillary employment for everybody from the announcers to the person who stripes the red paint around penalty areas. The recent advent of “Playing Through” on NBC and Golf Channel is a defensive measure that attempts to stop viewers from speeding through the commercials on a DVR. I have found that strategy to be the most challenging for the viewer, as it is so distracting that one cannot pay attention to the commercial or the golf action. There were several important shots that occurred during the “Playing Through” segments, and I basically missed them. The audio of the commercial being played over the action makes following the action particularly annoying.
Just like on the course in real life, when someone “plays through” your group, it is distracting and challenges your own pace of play. While I’m not against faster people playing through on my round, I never thought someone would do it in my living room.
Doing his best to avoid the ‘hit’
Reader Lou Body IV wrote about being irritated with the split-screen coverage (“From the Morning Read inbox,” April 5).
I can’t argue with that. But what bothers me more is the constant trailer at the bottom of the screen. How many times during the course of a three-plus-hour telecast do I have to be told that “on this date” Gary Player shot 77 in his first Masters appearance, or that the Augusta nines were flipped in 1935? This is 2021 television, where people are at home tuned in; it’s not 1960s radio, where things had to be repeated for those who just got in their cars. The trailer also cuts into the full feed, and it blocks a bottom portion of the telecast.
If Golf Channel thinks the trailer is a necessary part of the production, why not use it to show a leaderboard of the full field? Maybe because the network wants me to go to its website to look it up and thereby they get another “hit”?
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