Remember the good ol’ days, say, 10 years ago, when you actually had to watch the Masters on television? Or, better yet, Tiger Woods’ debut win way back in 1997 when you planned your days around the two to four hours of mid-afternoon coverage? Can you recall how you made sure the snacks and drinks were close by so you didn’t miss an “In your life … ” moment? Remember how you learned to time bathroom breaks to coincide with Cadillac and Travelers ads? And, of course, remember how the roster of who you saw and where you saw them was dictated by Frank Chirkinian or Lance Barrow, the golf producers of CBS? That was often the toughest part. If you fancied Larry Rinker, you had slim chance of seeing any of his shots on air.
Ah, yes, the memories. It’s not quite the same as walking 5 miles to school in the snow (uphill both ways) but it’s worth reminding the whippersnappers what watching golf used to be like, especially now when you don’t even have to own a television to watch the majors from sunup to sundown.
This year, Masters.com introduced a feature that enabled you to pick your favorite players and watch every shot they hit without commentary. You could scroll back if you missed his 6-iron approach into No. 1. And you could add other players to your watch list to cut down on dead time. This was in addition to digital channels that allowed you to watch a couple of featured groups a day, or watch Nos. 4, 5 and 6, Amen Corner or Nos. 15 and 16. If you had a semi-tech-literate kid in the house you even could Air Play from your phone onto a big-screen TV, allowing you to see Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s every swing in high definition.
A lot has changed. Mercedes and AT&T are advertising partners with the Masters now. And you’ll notice that neither company used Bobby Jones’ image in their commercials, another practice that quietly went away. But the viewing options are better now than they have ever been, maybe better than for any sporting event in history. And that, my friends, is a tradition worth keeping.