The Church of Golf

It’s Good Friday and I’m going to church. I belong to the Church of Augusta National.

This year it so happens that the Masters coincides with Easter weekend. (Is that what we’re supposed to call it? Easter Weekend? Hurry in for big Easter Savings before prices rise on Sunday morning!)

Today I’m missing my friend, Mike May, a former seminarian who became a lawyer instead of a priest and a Unitarian instead of a Catholic. But Mike, who left us in October, never got over the need for rituals and breaking bread and drinking wine in groups and so he had various “luncheons” throughout the year. The big one was on Good Friday. There were rituals within this ritual, which I will not describe here, except to say that they involved a special cocktail and certain bad jokes.

But I have the Masters to console me. It’s another event steeped in tradition and ritual. The quiet piano music, the slow motion golfers, the sun-dappled shaded scenes of the golf course (I’m sorry, we call it “the property”) and the reverent fans (I’m sorry, “the patrons”) all tell us that this is not just another golf tournament. In fact, it’s not a tournament at all. It’s penance on the front nine and communion on the back with “Amen Corner” in between.

The blasphemous among us see this as pretentious. My wife, who is blasphemous, raises her eyes to the ceiling and says something sacrilegious like, “oh c’mon, it’s just golf,” before she leaves me and goes in the other room to watch Main Cabin Masters, which is actually a pretty good show, but can’t compete with the real Masters.

And, by the way, in an era when you can’t say “master bedroom” anymore and in a part of the country that once had plantations and in a country where the Cleveland baseball team is now the Guardians and the Washington football club is the Commanders, how on earth do we still have the Masters in Georgia?

But I digress.

This year, like most, is loaded with drama. Can Scottie Scheffler join the tiny group of the chosen who have won two green jackets in a row? (Some day there will be 12 of these men, and then none will be added.) Can Rory McIlroy finally complete his career grand slam? How can the LIV golfers live with themselves for taking millions from Saudi murderers? Can Tiger Woods walk all that way? Who makes the best umbrellas?

For four days (maybe more if the rain holds out) we’ll do 18 stations of the cross. And on the final day one man will rise in Butler Cabin to don the green jacket. Mike May didn’t play much golf, but he’d get this.

Have a good weekend.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

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