Hello. HELLO. No, don’t look around you. Look up and then you’ll see me. I am what is putting you in the shade. I am a tree. Actually, let me put modesty aside. I am THE tree, perhaps the most famous tree in golf.
I am not one of the many oaks at Oak Hill in Rochester, N.Y., nor the oak that spreads its welcome behind the 18th of the Old course at Sunningdale in England, nor one of the cork trees at Valderrama in Spain nor a Scots pine at Wentworth nor a loblolly at many courses in Florida.
No, no, no. There are arboreal wonders and then there is me. Magnificent me! Splendid me!
I am nothing less than the finest specimen in all golf of the Quercus Virginiana live oak tree. I am the tree that dominates the lawn at Augusta National Golf Club. I am a little over 60 feet tall, 160 years old and though I am supported by hawsers in case I fall over, well, what 160-year-old does not need some bulwarking here and there.
Beneath my limbs, deals have been done, interviews conducted, liaisons arranged, meetings cancelled.
If I could talk, well, what stories I could tell.
Actually, I can talk.
I can tell you what Tiger Woods said as he walked past me on the Sunday of the 2019 Masters. You don’t want to know. It’s not very interesting. I can tell you what Ben Crenshaw said in 2013, regaling listeners about his triumphs in 1984 and 1995.
I can tell you what Bobby Jones said when he first set eyes on this land in 1930 and I overheard Fuzzy Zoeller make his infamous remark about fried chicken.
I can tell you what many irreverent journalists say when they loiter inside the green rope and in the shade of my embrace, hoping to snatch a word with a passing player or official. Drop a bomb on my head during Masters week and you would wipe out a large number of the game’s administrators, players, journalists.
I am the first thing people see when they emerge from the clubhouse and the last thing they see before they enter it. Thousands of conversations have ended with the words: “See you under the tree at Augusta.” Beneath my limbs, deals have been done, interviews conducted, liaisons arranged, meetings cancelled.
Not this year though. This week I shall look down on an empty space. The lawn beneath me will be quiet and desolate, eerie actually. Ah well, on to next year. Or perhaps later this year? Who knows? In these uncertain times the only thing that is certain is that I will still be here. Remember this. I am the tree of trees and all others are merely a gangling tangle of leaves, boughs and limbs.