So deep is the obsession with the year’s first men’s major that there is a website dedicated to counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until The Masters is upon us.
No Masters history, no tales of past glory, no deep dives into how the green jacket came to be or who first suggested a Champions dinner. Just a clock, ticking down.
It’s testament to the popularity of the tournament and the esteem in which it is held that most golfers don’t find the existence of said website surprising.
In truth, nothing surprises about The Masters and Augusta National – a venue once described by Lee Westwood as Disneyland for grown-ups’.
There are no doubt many myths about the maintenance practises at Augusta National but what is indisputable is the amount of human interference required to make the place look the way it does. And that’s a problem.
Ask any golf course superintendent in the world the worst week to be in the job and the answer will be almost universal: the first full week of April.
The immaculate conditions presented at Augusta National have become a benchmark for courses around the world, the pristine presentation almost unanimously accepted as the gold standard.
"There are no doubt many myths about the maintenance practises at Augusta National but what is indisputable is the amount of human interference required to make the place look the way it does. And that’s a problem."
But what Augusta achieves each year is not only unrealistic for the majority, it would be borderline irresponsible to pursue it more broadly.
Because grass, and particularly bright green grass like we see at Augusta each year, requires water, and a lot of it.
Last week in England there was a conference held to discuss planet earth’s most precious resource and the state of its supply and demand.
Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the nation’s Environment Agency, pulled no punches with his assessment of the situation suggesting the ‘jaws of death’ – the lines on a graph which indicate the point at which demand surpasses supply – would arrive in England within 25 years.
No matter what business you’re in that is a sobering thought but if you’re in an industry that relies on turf – and acres of it – it is particularly confronting.
Even if Bevan has it wrong by 50 years there is no doubt water, at some point, will become a much less freely available resource.
As that happens, the notion of pouring thousands of litres of it on playing fields such as golf courses will likely be viewed quite dimly.
"The less we as golfers fixate on course conditioning the better. Sensible maintenance practises that provide playable turf conditions without the emerald look are the way of the future and consumers need to be part of driving that shift."
Augusta National might be the most visible example of over watered turf in the game but in reality, the problem lies not with the club or the tournament but with us, the viewers and players.
Like water, golf is a supply and demand proposition and the more we demand courses that mimic Augusta’s conditions the more such courses will be supplied.
So when you turn the TV on in two weeks’ time and your 50-inch-plus high-definition screen explodes with the almost unnatural green of Augusta’s fairways stop and think for a moment: “Is this what golf should look like?”
The less we as golfers fixate on course conditioning the better. Sensible maintenance practises that provide playable turf conditions without the emerald look are the way of the future and consumers need to be part of driving that shift.
Because if change doesn’t come from within the game it is all but guaranteed to be imposed from outside. And that solution will be much less palatable.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, iSeekGolf, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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