Augusta National and The Masters Tournament Committee have taken an unprecedented step: they have released video of every Masters tournament from 1968 onward. Since they have a stranglehold on trademarks, copywrites, brands, even the vocal octaves Jim Nantz is allowed to use on air, this is their way of giving back.
I’ll let the IP and other trademark attorneys among you hash out the details, but trust that very few brands in the world are as iconic, and as protected, as those associated with The Masters. I’ve heard of entire railroad/semi truck containers filled with golf shirts being rejected for slight imperfections, but The Masters forcing the vendor to provide proof they were destroyed, to prevent making their way to the black market.
But more importantly, we now have a library with which to waste countless hours (at least before Thursday morning) checking out footage and reminiscing. Sure there are tons of great champions you remember, but what about watching Tom Weiskopf come up short in 2nd place in 1969? And in 1972? And again in ‘74 and ‘75?
Everyone wants to watch Jack’s great 1986 comeback. But what about his runner-up finishes in 1964, ‘71, ‘77, and ‘81? He won 6 times - but think how many he actually had a chance at winning.
You can watch Seve Ballesteros bursting onto the scene in 1980. Sandy Lyle’s miraculous fairway bunker shot on 18 in 1988. Ray Floyd’s total domination in 1976. The Larry Mize playoff chip-in to deny Greg Norman in 1987.
Then there is the collapse of Greg Norman in 1996 (overshadowing a tremendous 65 by Nick Faldo that day). For all the roars you hear through the pines at Augusta, on Sunday in 1996 all you heard were the groans of despair, as everyone wanted Norman to finally break through but watched helplessly as he folded and the golfing gods worked whatever they could against him.
One year later, the crowd re-energized for the absolute dismantling of the course by a young Tiger Woods. He set about half of the tournament records that year, winning by 12 strokes. But he also shot 40 on his first nine holes of the tournament... 4 over par. He was 22 under par the rest of the way.
Maybe you like your Masters with a dose of Red & Black, so 2012 might be your favorite. And the basically impossible hook sand wedge by Bubba Watson to capture the title over Louis Oosthuizen. Or 2014 when Bubba strolled up 18 with the tournament wrapped up in a bow.
Use the comments below to tell us which is your favorite Masters tournament.
And as always...