An SEC fan guide to the Masters
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This has been a rough week y’all. As I write this, 3 SEC games were canceled just hours ago, the remaining schedule is a tangled ball of mess and confusion, and a weekend that sports fans, especially in the South, have been looking forward to all year has lost a fraction of its luster.
In a year that has been seemingly just a calendar full of one disaster after the next, this weekend was supposed to be a bright spot. A weekend we needed, and honestly deserve. Two of the greatest traditions and dramatic theaters in all of sports on the same weekend.
College football. The Masters. Together.
— bill hofheimer (@bhofheimer_espn) November 9, 2020
Like the yellow 1st-down line, peanuts in a Coke bottle or deep fried Snickers, this was the combination that Southerners never knew we needed, but now don’t ever want to live without. A gluttonous flex of all things great.
So no whining or crying over spilled contact tracing, or milk. Because if you are anything but Christmas-morning-level-excited for this weekend, you’re wrong. And here are a few reasons why.
- We can watch Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State lose by 30 literally ANY weekend we want.
- No Bama-LSU means a weekend without Gary Danielson and a weekend WITH UNCLE VERNE.
- We get to watch the SEC dominate 2 sports instead of 1.
And if you’re still somehow on the fence, let us explain the Masters, and golf in general, the best way we know how: through SEC-colored glasses and a whole bunch of bias. This is our SEC Fan’s Guide to the Masters. Because this week, it just means fore.
If you aren’t familiar with Augusta, let me explain. Augusta in July is awful. It’s basically just one long heatstroke of misery. However, Augusta during Masters Week is incredible and pretty similar to SEC towns on game days every fall. People come from all over the world, and the city buzzes with excitement.
A friend of mine who lives there describes Masters week in Augusta as as “like having unrealistically high expectations all year long for something, and yet you’re still somehow never disappointed.” So, basically the opposite of how LSU fans felt about the Alabama game for the past decade, or the opposite of how Tennessee fans feel about every game right now.
Augusta National. It’s quite simply the most beautiful golf course in the world. The drive down Magnolia Lane toward the clubhouse looks like a Faulkner novel that came to life, as magnolia trees line the road like the hedges line Sanford Stadium. It has the beauty of the Grove, the charm of Athens and the unexplainable reverence and mystique of Death Valley.
Magnolia Lane awaits. pic.twitter.com/swp5DxtcL0
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 9, 2020
The course is immaculate. Outside of Snoop Dogg and Les Miles, no one loves grass as much as the maintenance crew in Augusta. Roughly $30 million was spent on course maintenance in 2015. Which is incredible when you realize South Carolina won’t even spend half of that to fire Will Muschamp.
The course is also shut down for several months immediately following the tournament in order to keep it in such pristine shape. So, most of the event’s success is really just 1 big week in an entire season and then just 3-4 months of absolutely nothing. Just like every regular-season schedule Clemson has played in the past 6 years.
There are several unique rules for patrons as well. For instance, just like Mike Leach’s offense, running is strictly prohibited at the Masters. And unlike the rule outlawing cowbells in Davis-Wade Stadium, the rules in Augusta are actually followed.
The other biggest rule at Augusta is no phones or cameras are allowed inside the grounds. That may not seem like a big deal, but if that rule were in place in Oxford, Miss., back in 2015, Hugh Freeze would still be at Ole Miss, and Laremy Tunsil’s draft day would’ve ended with more bank and less dank.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) April 29, 2016
‘Tailgating’ & pregame festivities
To be fair, there are no real “tailgates” at this tournament. However, you can experience the next best thing. Hooters. I’m serious. Going to Hooters off Washington Road is better than any dog, tiger, cat, or whatever mascot walk into a stadium you see on SEC Saturdays. Mainly because John Daly shows up every year in his RV and gets drunk in the parking lot signing autographs. I mean, if that’s not the most Stephen Garcia thing you’ve ever heard then I don’t know what is.
A Tradition Unlike Any Other: John Daly at the Hooters in Washington Road. pic.twitter.com/H2PtAyMmki
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 9, 2019
Teamwork & staff
Putting on an event like the Masters takes an unbelievable amount of effort, commitment and teamwork from everyone involved. The club calls hundreds of volunteers, thousands of workers and every member from the club to help during Masters Week. Everyone. So no matter how rich or famous you are, everyone has to help in some form or fashion during Masters Week.
Think about it like a coaching staff comprised of a head coach, coordinators, assistants, analysts, etc. BUT, for one week of the year everyone on the staff is Butch Jones.
— NICK KAYAL (@NickKayal) February 14, 2019
Food & drink prices
Another cool thing about the Masters is the concessions and food menu. As someone who grew up in the Peach State, I can tell you firsthand just how similar the food prices are to Georgia and Georgia Tech’s football programs. For example, a pimento cheese sandwich is just $1.50, because just like UGA’s trophy case, their prices haven’t changed in roughly 40 years and are still cheaper than an actual ticket to a Georgia Tech game at Bobby Dodd.
What you can get at the Masters for ~$20:
-2 domestic beers
-2 egg salad sandwiches
-2 pimento cheese sandwiches
-2 bags of chips
-1 ice cream sandwich
What you can get at the Super Bowl for ~$20:
-1 ham and cheese sandwich
-1 non-alcoholic beer
— SB Nation (@SBNation) April 4, 2018
Rosetta Azalea Stone & broadcast rules
The Masters does a lot of things different than any other golf club and/or tournament in the world. That even stretches into what words the broadcast is allowed to use on-air. For instance, just like a Vandy home game, there are no “fans.” They’re called patrons. Also, back 9 is the “second 9” and the rough is actually the “2nd cut.” So each broadcast is kind of like a Coach O halftime interview that you have to learn a whole new language to understand.
Also, CBS is allowed to show only 4 minutes of commercials per hour during their broadcast, which is roughly (checks notes) a thousand times less than they show in the 2nd quarter alone of every single 3:30 SEC Game.
Maybe the biggest thing the Masters and the SEC have in common is tradition. The excitement for each event/season begins building months in advance. And, as crazy as it sounds, hearing Jim Nance say, “Hello friends,” softly over elevator music on a Masters Sunday is somehow just as electric as hearing the CBS SEC theme song or when the band plays Neck in Baton Rouge.
— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 10, 2020
Another tradition is the Champions Dinner. Every Tuesday during Masters Week, the defending champion hosts a dinner for every past champion in tournament history. That seems like it would be a lot of fun. But, it also sounds like an absolute logistical nightmare at the same time. Think about if every year at SEC Media Days, there was a dinner for all the former national championship head coaches in the SEC. Sure it would be awesome to get drunk with Spurrier and eat whatever Coach O was serving. But, what about the anxiety of trying to feed 10-plus people AND Phillip Fulmer? Or what about the years when Bama wins, and Nick Saban decides on a menu of Little Debbie’s and silence?
The other big traditions are just as unique and different as the ones we see all around the SEC and college football. Why? Because they were made up roughly 100 years ago, are completely ridiculous to any outsider who doesn’t get it, and yet somehow they’re held with the highest of esteem and prestige.
This will be an unpopular opinion, but hear me out. The green jacket is the most ridiculous “trophy” in all of sports. And, before you overreact, think about this. Imagine telling your wife you were leaving town for 4 days to go play golf, but that it is somehow worth it because if you win, you get a Christmas tree-colored blazer.
I’m not saying winning the Masters isn’t cool. Just like I’m not saying that the Midnight Yell isn’t cool. What I am saying is that I don’t get it. Because personally, if it’s midnight on a Friday on an SEC campus, I would rather be at a bar than at a summer camp singalong. And just being honest, if I won the most prestigious tournament in the world and I got a damn 1950s leisure suit instead of a trophy, I wouldn’t be thrilled. That’s like winning the Orange Bowl and getting an oversized Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirt as a prize.
Lol Patrick Reed wore the green jacket to the Rockets game. So this is like wearing your letter jacket to the mall in high school times 100, right? pic.twitter.com/sfyZVynin3
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 16, 2018
I get that it’s tradition. But, I feel the same about the green jacket as I do about Michigan and Minnesota playing for “Paul Bunyan’s axe.” Congrats, but we should’ve workshopped that trophy idea a little more. Just sayin’. Regardless, it’s yet another unique and universally accepted tradition that adds to the charm of Augusta.
PGA vs. SEC comparisons and finding someone to root for
Sports are always more fun when you have a reason to care. The best way to do that is … well, gambling. But another way is figuring out someone to pull for or against. Think about it like bowl season, where we might not know all the teams, but we do know we’re pulling for the SEC and whoever is playing Clemson, Notre Dame, Harbaugh, UCF, etc.
Last year, roughly a tenth of the overall players in the tournament were from the SEC, as 11 of the 96 players had SEC ties. (That’s 10.5 if you include Patrick Reed, but we’ll get to that later.) Shockingly, the SEC did not win it all, as a former Pac-12 player from Stanford did what none of their football teams have come close to doing in almost 2 decades. Regardless, here’s a helpful guide for whom you should root for this weekend.
Everyone hates Dabo
Honestly, this may be the most important thing you read all day. Dabo Swinney was once kicked out of Augusta National. Which according to my NextGen stats is one more time than all SEC coaches combined.
Tiger Woods = Nick Saban
Sure he went to Stanford, but Tiger Woods is basically Nick Saban. Tiger has 5 green jackets. Saban has 5 national titles at Bama. Granted, there were some Mike Price/Dubose tendencies in the past from Woods, but this is a no-brainer.
— Graham Couch (@Graham_Couch) October 14, 2015
Phil Mickelson = Lane Kiffin
Both have been wildly successful for the most part, with a few public humiliations sprinkled in. Both also are unapologetically themselves, and despite getting older and fatter every day, they both still have that “just got divorced and don’t give a damn” swagger that you absolutely love to pull for.
— theScore PGA (@theScorePGA) June 27, 2020
Bryson DeChambeau = Todd Grantham
They look nothing alike, as Grantham is shaped like the Hamburglar and DeChambeau looks like if Bruce Arians were an Uber XL driver in Boston. However, what they do have in common is: being universally hated, being really good at what they do, and being fueled by being unnecessarily macho and aggressive.
It’s Masters week!
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) November 9, 2020
Rickie Fowler = Mike Gundy
Basically the same person. Both have ties to Oklahoma State, both are really likable, both have a personality based off funny and stupid-looking hair, AND both always seem to be contention while also never being in contention.
Ian Poulter = Tom Herman
Both are every bit as unlikable as you’d guess that a douchebag in Oakley sunglasses would be.
— Golf Monthly (@GolfMonthly) June 27, 2020
Fred Couples = Hunter Renfrow
Both of these dudes have been around since the Reagan administration.
Max Homa = Danny Kanell
Both are good professional athletes, but both are also hilariously elite trolls on social media. It’s almost an art form.
The swing is fine. But I can’t shake the feeling that this guy posts his scores from his virtual rounds so he can brag about his handicap to his work friends via Zoom https://t.co/YvypQ9qZyZ
— max homa (@maxhoma23) November 6, 2020
Dustin Johnson = Kliff Kingsbury
Young. Attractive. Flashes of brilliance. I don’t care if they win. I want to party with them regardless.
Dustin Johnson: “My favorite thing about the Masters is the sandwiches.” pic.twitter.com/sfJwuFtSME
— Barry Rozner (@BarryRozner) November 10, 2020
Rory McIlroy = UGA/Kirby Smart
Everyone believed they’d both be the next dynasty a few years ago, but neither has lived up to the expectations and both blew huge 2nd-half/final-round leads in this state.
Bubba Watson = Gus Malzahn
Wildly inconsistent, and somewhat polarizing likability with fans. Both are usually really good when they’re supposed to be bad, and really bad when they’re supposed to be good. Also, both had their biggest career moment about 6-8 years ago because of an incredible and miraculous play/shot.
📅 April 8, 2012: On this date 8 years ago…
The Masters ⛳️
• Bubba Watson pulls a huge drive into the trees right of the 10th fairway on the 2nd hole of the sudden-death playoff.
Next shot: 🗣️ “Did it hook? OH WHAT A SHOT!”
Cash that 50-1 ticket 💰: pic.twitter.com/9ANndGjlQJ
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) April 8, 2020
Matt Kuchar = Sam Pittman
Sure they look totally different. However, both are impossible not to like. Always smiling, and unbelievably nice.
Sergio Garcia = Will Muschamp
Both are known for short tempers, public meltdowns and passive-aggressive press conferences. Both aren’t necessarily hated by everyone, but they’re hated on publicly more than almost anyone.
Patrick Reed = 2008 Florida
The worst. Stole from teammates in college. Ridiculously overconfident. Not only hated by almost every fan in golf, but also almost every player in golf. But both have one redeeming quality: Tim Tebow and Ryder Cup match play.
Kevin Kisner on Patrick Reed: ‘They all hate him… they wouldn’t p*** on him if he was on fire.’ 😵😵
— GolfMagic.com (@GolfMagic) December 12, 2018
Hope you enjoyed this SEC homer guide to the Masters. And, remember — gold jacket, green jacket, who gives a damn. Let’s enjoy this dream weekend no matter what.