Golf's annual rite of spring is finally here on the week of November 9th. It's arrived as the leaves on the trees outside my house have turned red. Tiger Woods will finally defend his epic 2019 Masters title 19 months later. He and the invitational field will do so in front of no fans. Blooming azaleas have been replaced with hints of fall foliage. Around Augusta we may hear more leaf blowers than grass mowers.
Usually, when the Masters comes on in April, it inspires me to get in some rounds and plan for a busy summer of playing golf. This year, with summer behind us, the election finally over and the holidays upon us, if I can be brutally honest, my clubs and I need some time apart.
If you're like me, the Masters is hitting your internal sporting clock a little differently this year. The arrival of Magnolia Lane on our TV sets typically triggers a sense of optimism and renewal. Days are growing longer. Grass is green again.
But this week, I'll be watching with my year's highlights behind me. This summer, like many golfers, I saw my index drop lower than it's been since I became an adult with a day job. And then, sometime around the time the leaves began to fall here in Texas, the guy who thought he was a few rounds away from getting down to a 4 index is now playing like a vanity 8-hcp again. On Friday I hit 10 tee shots dead right.
On the way home from that agonizing round, my feet were sore, my skin red and I realized I was more eager to get some nagging chores done around the house than book my next tee time. That never happens. It definitely never does when the Masters is on the horizon. Is something wrong with me?
The historic staging of the 2020 Masters November 12-15 feels like the closing ceremony of an extraordinary year in amateur golf.
The Masters typically comes on right around the time northern markets have thawed out. The clocks have sprung forward and suddenly there's time after work for a quick nine or large bucket. Sports fans everywhere stream early round coverage at work on Thursday and Friday and later venture into their golf shop to waggle some new gear. We update our golf apps, make tee times and reunite with golf buddies from a season ago. Golf leagues open and competitive players eye the area competitions calendar for a benchmark to set.
That's all in the past. The historic staging of the 2020 Masters November 12-15 feels like the closing ceremony of an extraordinary year in amateur golf. Rounds this year are up 8.7% nationally according to Golf Datatech and the Midwest enjoyed a huge surge in play in September. Golfers everywhere haven't wanted their 2020 escape to end, even if snow storms made the call for them up north. But, just when you thought the clubs were done for good in 2020, a warm spell up north has golfers able to play some golf in between Masters action, if daylight allows.
But for me, this Masters week, I've decided to put my clubs back in the closet and clear out some lingering golf items I haven't touched in years. I just posted 10 golf items I'm sick of looking at to Facebook Marketplace. I gave away some others to friends and left a load of soft goods at the Goodwill drop box. I finally threw out some ancient golf gloves with holes in them. I'm ready to mulch away all the scar tissue and clutter that has accumulated this golf season.
Maybe by Sunday night, after a week of watching incredible golf in the fall twilight, the Masters magic will have me back on the wagon.