Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Beauty of the Masters

At lunch on Monday, riding high from the Masters tourney, I cornered the JV boys golf coach and another colleague who spends 10 days every summer golfing in Scotland. I told them "I can't wait to talk to you two." I wanted nothing more than to geek out and talk about The Masters for the next 40 minutes.

Another colleague saw us and said "Is it all golf talk at this table?" I wanted to run pass interference against her so we would not have to curtail our conversation. I responded with an emphatic "yes" but she sat down anyway. It was at that point, I realized just how many others enjoyed the 2015 Masters too It wasn't just a day for golf enthusiasts. Sports fan and non-sports fan alike were witnesses to an incredible day, an awesome feat, good stories and true beauty.
With this blog post, I'd like to offer a few things worth remembering.
  • Every good story becomes better when told by a great narrator. The announcers at The Masters are second to none. I love the sing-song brogue of Northern Ireland's David Ferhety and the British accent of Nick Faldo nearly lulls you to sleep. And Jim Nantz gives it the class and authority the first of the four majors deserves. 
  • Several of their comments will stay with me. In addition to some players having "nerves of titanium," these are good ones.
    • We talk about learning from mistakes all the time.
      Sometimes I am wary of this adage as I tell my students that some mistakes in life are too big to make, the consequences too grave. But in many domains, it's true, mistakes can be our best teachers. And that was important for no one more than Jordan Spieth. Perhaps you remember his performance in the 2014 Masters. As written for CBS Sports
      • He entered the final round tied at 5-under, but Watson shot 69 to Spieth's 72. Jonas Blixt finished alongside Spieth in second place at 5-under
        But none of that was predictable given the way the day began. A birdie at the par-5 2nd got Spieth moving in the right direction. Then, at No. 4, he holed a thrilling bunker shot to move two strokes ahead of Watson. Spieth gave one back at No. 5, but then rolled in consecutive birdies at Nos. 6 & 7.
      • It started to come unraveled for Spieth at the wrong time, since it perfectly coincided with Watson's charge. Spieth had a two-stroke lead on the tee at No. 8, and he started the second nine two strokes off Watson's pace after consecutive bogeys.that
    • Nothing unraveled this year for Jordan Spieth. And Sir Nick Faldo made note of it when he said, "All the greats learn from their mistakes and do it quickly. That is a mark of a champion." Translation: for those seeking excellence, implement change sooner rather than later. Here, here.
    • Fortune Falls on the Brave:
      • If are looking for a putting clinic, perhaps I can recommend just watching Spieth during the final round. He did so much, so well. His line, his pace, his aim. Mastery. Phil Mickelson knew he would need to do the same in order to recover from being four shots behind the leader. He did what he could and went for it. We knew he would.
Phil had a great putt but it missed on this hole. He was still able to smile & enjoy the feat. So close...
    • Dark Colors and Aggression:
      • In one of my favorite comments, Mickelson said he would be wearing dark colors on Sunday. "It's been proven that NFL teams that wear dark colors play more aggressively and that's what I will need to do tomorrow." Atta boy Phillie. Anyone who really knows you speaks of how competitive you are. I love the fact that you aimed to do what men wearing helmets and full pads aim to do. Be aggressive. You went for it..and we love that.
    • You are Not Bo Jackson:
      • As written in the Bleacher Report, Tiger Woods dispels major doubts about his game and finishes all four rounds at Augusta, but not without incident as he injures his wrist in Sunday’s final round of the Masters. He"jammed his iron into a tree root on the ninth hole and hurt his right wrist. He said, 'a bone kinda popped out and a joint kind of went out of place, but I put it back in.' If you were watching you saw that hitting the tree root caused him to yell out in pain and shake his wounded extremity."
      • My two favorite Sports Talk radio announcers had a hey-day with this. Not long ago, Tiger talked about "deactivating his glutes." In the history of the game, not once has a golfer spoke of their gluteal muscle(s). Tiger, however, speaks of putting his joint back into place and/or popping it back in. Murph & Mac wants Tiger to realize hs is not Bo Jackson—who really did pop his hip bone back into its socket. Watch Jackson run, take hits, climb walls, dive for catches and you will know he did. Sorry Tiger, your tree root, your 7 iron and your hand convinced no one.
Walking off with his parents Shawn & Chris
  • On the final hole, Justin Rose, the second place finisher, who was partnered with Spieth throughout the day, held back on the walk to the final green. A gracious competitor, he did this so Spieth could take in the applause, cheers and sight of what was about to happen: his first major victory.

    That moment gets me every time. It is timeless. I get completely choked up and tears fill my eyes. I asked myself Why does this happen? What is it? I shared my question with a few others and I came to an important realization. When you see beauty, pure and true, it moves the heart. I can't help but capture your emotions and strike something deep within.

    Quite often, we are moved to tears when we see beauty in a newborn, at a friend's wedding or in a moment of reconciliation. Where we find beauty is as unique as we are. I happen to find it on a golf course in Augusta, Georgia. I find it in a game played at the highest level, exposing the talents and gifts of a young man. I see it in the love and support of his parents, grandfather, girlfriend Annie and three closest friends from Dallas Jesuit as he walked to the clubhouse.

    I can't wait to see it again...I know what will happen when I do. Tears, a movement of the heart and a deep desire to share it all with those I know love that beauty as much as I do. Maybe it should be said "And on the 7th day, the Lord watched a round of golf"...because He did.
Photo Credits
Phil Mickelson
Green Jacket

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