Warning for Vinnie: This is in fact a golf post. That said, it is a much more relevant sport to America than soccer and therefore can occupy one spot on our blog.
Apparently, the Masters has decided to take a cue from the U.S. Open and enjoys humiliating world class golfers to appease Old Man Par. What they have done is ruined the most enjoyable golf tournament by making it almost painful to watch. Like a Big Ten basketball game, my appreciation of the sport will keep me tuned in even if the overall play may be less than stellar. However, if I want to watch golfers scrambling all over the course and watching good shots turn out horribly, I'll take a trip to my local country club. What I want to watch is quality golf, with deserving shots meriting birdies and the occasional eagles. After Tiger shot a combined 35 under in 1998 and 2001, the members at Augusta National decided to fight back, lengthening the course to more than 7,400 and making the rough more penal. In short, they decided to "Tiger-Proof" it.
By making the course ridiculously long, they have made it nearly impossible to keep good shots on the green. The greens have always been insanely fast, but in the past golfers would have a fighting chance to hit a shot close because they would be using short enough clubs to allow them to control the ball. When you are hitting a 200 yard 4-iron into a fast green, the ball stands little chance of getting close barring a lucky bounce along the way. All of this has led to golfers scrambling for par like a U.S. Open, a goal I have long criticized the USGA for.
While technology allows golfers to hit the ball 20-30 yards further than years past, adding length to a course is not necessarily the answer. Especially at a course like Augusta National, the greens are not meant to hold long iron shots. A much better solution would be to decrease the width of fairways, putting a premium of driving the ball straight. While guys like Tiger and Phil Mickelson can hit the ball a mile, they often struggle with wayward tee shots. This could fairly punish them, while keeping the integrity of the golf course intact.
No, I do not want to see the Masters become the John Deere Classic where 25 under wins. What I want to see is what happened in years past: exciting birdies and eagles and the ability to make a back nine charge. The Masters looks to have lost some of the luster that set it apart from other majors. I hope the members at Augusta National work to rectify the situation in future years.