Friday, April 9, 2010

Why I Hate The Masters

I've never been a big fan of professional golf, and I rarely if ever pay attention to the PGA Tour. For the most part, my attitude toward the sport is a question of exquisite indifference, but there is one part of it that I actively dislike - The Masters tournament, and the venue that hosts it every year, Augusta National Golf Club. Why? Because, in the face of the withering and thoroughly justifiable criticism golf has received over the years as a patrician endeavor for rich, well-connected white men, Augusta National not only continues to embrace the problematic values of the sport's past but, without any apparent irony, declares the tournament it hosts "a tradition unlike any other". Much as I detest misogyny and elitism, I don't really have a problem with a private golf club deciding it doesn't want to admit women, or "riffraff", or whatever - but I can't abide one that does so, while at the same time pompously declaring itself a national sporting treasure and insisting that visitors tread its course as if it were sacred ground. Philadelphia Inquirer sports columnist John Gonzalez pretty much nails the prevailing attitude at Augusta National in this column (I particularly enjoyed the underwhelmed reaction of the little boy, cutting through the bullshit and mutual self-delusion of adults as only one with a child's eyes can). We really are talking about grown men whacking around little white balls with metal clubs here - an activity that, viewed by someone from a culture to which golf was unknown, would appear an absurd waste of time and resource. To enjoy it, or even to celebrate it, is one thing, and I don't begrudge that to golf fans - but to treat it with the reverence of a papal procession is ridiculous. The English say that soccer is a gentleman's game played by thugs, whilst rugby is a thug's game played by gentlemen. Golf, at least as played at Augusta, is a weekender's game played by pretentious twits.

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