Ironically, one of the most pleasing aspects of this year’s Masters was likely the one thing the green jackets hated the most.
Unlike every other year in living memory – including those where severe weather has disrupted the tournament – Augusta National was not (thankfully) its usual immaculate self this past week.
Not for a lack of effort, of course, but not even the resources of one of the richest golf clubs in the world can create perfection in direct opposition to Mother Nature.
And that is a positive for golf course Superintendents the world over.
The story has been written ad nauseum over the years (including by me, more than once) about the unrealistic expectations Augusta National’s presentation creates in the minds of the golfing public.
The near perfection we are dished up for four days each American spring is like a golf fantasy land. Disneyland for grown-ups, as Lee Westwood put it a few years ago.
"Like a supermodel without makeup, Augusta National was no less stunning with her imperfections on show and that’s an important message for golf and golfers."
But this year’s November date made that all but impossible and, coupled with early week rains, did little to make life easier for those tasked with the course presentation.
All of which added up to a win for the viewing public. Like a supermodel without makeup, Augusta National was no less stunning with her imperfections on show and that’s an important message for golf and golfers.
The obsession with ever greener and more perfect playing surfaces has not been a healthy one and is undoubtedly tied to the professional game and its presentation on TV.
Each week television viewers around the world see – and hear players fawn over – the pristine conditioning of tournament courses.
And in this category none could come close to Augusta National (except perhaps our own Metropolitan Golf Club in Melbourne).
While common sense tells all golf watchers that what they see on TV – especially in Georgia each April – is not a realistic goal for week to week play at their own club, too many suspend that common sense in the belief that conditioning is the most important aspect of a golf course.
But it’s not. Architecture is. And once again, Augusta National proved that this week.
The real brilliance of Bob Jones and Alister Mackenzie’s Georgia gem is not in its mowing or how it looks on TV but in the genius of the holes the pair designed.
It is fair to argue that much of the original intent has been lost but enough still remains to all but guarantee fascinating golf each year.
While 2020 might not have been the most thrilling finish courtesy of Dustin Johnson’s brilliance, the leaderboard once again featured players who get it done a multitude of different ways.
The intrigue over the course of the four days came from the questions the course asked and the answers the world’s best gave. None of it had anything to do with Augusta’s conditioning, perfect or otherwise.
Hopefully the flow on effect will be to remind all of us recreational players that course conditions only complement good golf, they don’t create it.
If it’s a case of one or the other, design should win out each time – a fact all golf clubs would do well to remember when allocating limited resources.