Steve Melnyk has several slices of Masters history worth most everyone’s envy.
A couple of weeks after he won the 1969 U.S. Amateur at Oakmont — a five-stroke victory back when the tournament was stroke play — Melnyk opened a personal letter from Bobby Jones welcoming him to Augusta National. His first-round pairing the following spring was with Jack Nicklaus, who clipped him by two strokes that day, and a year later he found himself playing alongside Arnold Palmer on his way to finishing low amateur.
When his playing career ended, Melnyk came back to collect memories by serving as the commentator on the 11th and 12th holes for a decade. His call of Larry Mize’s chip-in to defeat Greg Norman is one of the all-time classics — Melnyk’s soft, southern voice slowly saying, “Words do not do justice to the greatness of that shot.”
Even after that stint ended in the 1990s, he still returns every April as an honorary invitee. Until a recent change, that meant competing in the Par-3 Contest and playing practice rounds.
“It’s the greatest gig in the world,” Melnyk said. “They treat you like a player who doesn’t post a score. Only Augusta can do something like that.”
So how does a kid from Brunswick, Georgia, end up writing that golf story?
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