Traditions seem to be an important part of our culture. They provide something to look forward to each year. Often traditions bring about feelings of happiness and belonging. It can be a gathering of friends, who we don’t see often. This week has always been one of my favorite weeks of the year. Some people refer to it as their version of the Super Bowl. Masters week began on Monday, but the tournament officially began on Thursday. The Augusta National Golf Club has often been referred to as one of the prettiest places on earth. Those beautiful imagines come through on our television sets during the first week of April each year. The lush green fairways contrasted by blooming azaleas and dogwoods, seem to take us away to another place for a few days. Most everything about the event remains the same each year. The Masters has always been played on the same golf course. It’s tucked in the town of Augusta, Georgia. Often being played during sunny days in the south, as the rest of the country continues the thawing process from winter. The images warm us, having us think of the warm spring days to come.
The Masters is one of the most prestigious golf tournaments. If the tournament is won, a player becomes awarded the green jacket. Among the things signified by that green jacket is a lifetime exemption to play. A champion can return each year of their life to play in the tournament. All past champions gather for dinner on Tuesday night before the beginning of the Masters on Thursday. The only way into that dinner is the ownership of that coveted green jacket. These are just a couple things making it such a tradition. Players are competing to become part of the extensive history. The rewards for these winners seems to have us pulling for our favorite players with more intensity. We root for them to earn their way into the fabric of this yearly tradition. It ensures them the opportunity to enjoy this place each year and for us to watch them for years to come. The Masters has historically been challenging to qualify for, they don’t have a ton of players each year. So, those spots become extremely coveted. It’s part of what makes winning so exciting and keeps us excited to watch each year.
Even good traditions change over the years. It seems change becomes necessary to keep people interested. Each year should feel slightly exciting and new for the tradition to positively carry forward. The Masters seems to reinvented itself as the years’ pass. Augusta National has things going on all the time. As players improve and begin figuring out the course, they try making slight changes. Over time they have made design changes to some holes. They have re-contoured some of the greens and added trees to provide different looks. All these interesting changes add to the challenge. Even players who have been there each year can be met with unique surprises. It would seem to keep players on their toes each year, requiring them to prepare diligently for the golf tournament. Another interesting aspect of reworking the golf course means multiple winners may have won their second green jacket on a slightly different course. There probably isn’t a better way to keep things fresh and exciting, than by adding subtle changes. While they challenge the golfer differently, the integrity of the course and tradition seem to remain the same.
The gift of golf seems to come with passion for the Masters. Each year we watch golf being played in the most spectacular place. Another reason for this week being so special is the tournament being the first major tournament of the year. It has been six months since watching the last significant golf tournament. The Masters bringing us all together after a long winter. We return to our television sets to watch the colors of spring. This week can give us the feeling of inclusion and commonality with other people. We might not be seated with them in our living rooms, but we know people gather around the world to watch. Walking into any golf store this week, it’s all people talk about. Who are you picking to win The Masters? Everyone who follows the game has thought about the question. We all know the golf course and can pull up a picture of each hole when that hole is mentioned. Our minds framing every detail of every hole from years of watching.
Masters weekend has been a tradition that brings our family together. Each year this Saturday and Sunday are spent hanging out and watching the tournament. In a world that always has so many things going on, people moving in different directions. It seems nice to share a passion for something that brings us together. One of the biggest struggles around having cerebral palsy is feeling different from other people. The way we look at the world and go about living seems different. That makes small traditions mean so much, where we bond over similar emotions. We might watch the golf tournament differently, noticing different subtleties in the way it’s being played. But, sitting together and taking it all in, we probably experience similar emotions. We are pulling for our favorite player to win. That excitement becomes gripping for each of us on Sunday afternoon. As in some way we can all relate because we have all stood over a putt imagining it’s to win The Masters. Most of us simply dream of the opportunity to play the golf course someday. Or have the opportunity to attend the tournament. Even with cerebral palsy, I have shared in those same dreams. This week makes me thankful for the ability to play golf and share in those bonds.
Springtime often brings with it the renewal of hope. The flowers are in bloom and grass begins growing again. Sunshine has come back with the warmth it brings. This Masters week shows up each April with that renewal of hope. The excitement bringing those people lucky enough to be at the tournament together. It also brings us together as a world of golf fans to watch these four days unfold. Some people have the opportunity to attend The Masters each year. We listen to the players speak about seeing familiar faces in the crowds each year. It’s just another aspect that makes this week special. The tradition is added onto by the people who are lucky enough to be in Augusta, Georgia each spring. If you were to look at my bucket list, you would find attending The Masters somewhere around the top. After watching the tournament for so many years, it would be amazing to attend. An opportunity that would not be passed upon. One of the best parts would be experiencing the warmth of tradition. To see in person where some of the most famous shots in golf have been hit from. Feeling that gathering of friends for one week in early April and the renewal of hope, would be exciting.
The week of The Masters is one of the best of the year. We return to this amazing place in person or through television. While the views and warmth of springtime renews our hope for another year. Whatever our traditions during the week, it calls us back together. The week is spent speaking a common language. That language having been developed through years of watching the tournament played on the same course. For me, it’s a week spent watching golf with my brother. We talk about the different players, sit in awe of the shots being played, and marvel at the golf course. Maybe one day we will enjoy the week in person. But, even if that isn’t in the cards the enjoyment is rarely tampered. We join the millions of people around the world tuning in for the same experience. It provides feeling of inclusion, of being part of the yearly tradition. Cerebral palsy doesn’t interfere with the emotions being felt during this week. I sit around and enjoy just like everyone else. It’s my favorite week of the year, as we return and renew.