Anticipation: The Word of the Week at Augusta National

Shane Bacon on the buildup to the Masters Tournament


The Masters is the most anticipated golf event of every year. Its traditions and trademarks make it a one-of-one experience. But you know what makes the Masters feel that much better? That it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a men’s major. By the time we get to Thursday and the opening round of the Masters, it will have been 263 days since Cameron Smith shot that final round 64 at St. Andrews. That’s 72 percent of the year.

That’s a long time to wait! And when the PGA Championship moved from August to May in 2019, it added a month to the golf’s slow season. In 2018, we were already golf starved by April. Now, we’re absolutely famished every time the Masters rolls around.

I’d argue that Rory McIlroy’s quest for the career Grand Slam has also amplified the Masters over the last few years. Only one player has ever completed the career slam with a win at Augusta National, and that was Gene Sarazen back in 1935.

The tournament has gotten an extra built-in storyline from Rory: the best player of his generation is coming back to the game’s hallowed ground to (still!) try to and exorcise those demons that found him in 2011. Every year, the pressure intensifies. And every year, there’s a chance for history to be made.

Tiger and Rory. Courtesy of The Masters Tournament

But, frankly, the Masters doesn’t need storylines. It doesn’t need Tiger going for his sixth green jacket with hopes of tying Jack. It doesn’t need Scottie Scheffler trying to become the fourth player to win back-to-back titles. It can do without Brooks Koepka and Collin Morikawa looking for a third leg of the career Grand Slam. The Masters would still be the most anticipated event of the year if all those names (sans Tiger) took the week off.

But that isn’t all that we think about. During Masters week, the course, perhaps, matters even more than the field. Think about 2022 and the questions about how the 11th would play with the changes to the fairway. About how the 15th would play with the tee moved back. This year, architecture junkies aren’t the only ones talking about the course: one of the most famous holes in the world has gotten a makeover, and everybody is ready to see if it will be a dramatic par-5 and not just a thoughtless reachable hole.

The Masters has become less secretive over the years. We know more about what’s to come in 2023 than we ever have. But even with all that information, we still can’t wait to be brought back to Augusta.

The anticipation is real. It’s honest. It’s Masters week, everybody.

This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

More Masters coverage from The Fried Egg team:

LIV at the 2023 Masters

Recapturing the Intrigue: No. 4 at Augusta National

Geoff Ogilvy’s notes on all 18 at Augusta National

The Art Behind Augusta’s Roars: Focal points in Alister MacKenzie’s routings

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