First Sunday in April: The Masters, Book Review
Even though there has been plenty of golf played already this year, the real start to the season is right around the corner. Every year the golf season really begins in April with the start of the Masters Tournament. The Masters is the first major tournament of the season and the professionals try to get their games to peak for what many call the best tournament of the year. The Masters has a special atmosphere that surrounds it. It is like no other major. It is loved and revered for its history and traditions and is the most popular golf tournament in the world. Golfing professionals and everyday fans have fallen in love with Augusta National and all it brings to us in that first week of April every year. It is that love affair with the Masters, Augusta and its people that is captured in The First Sunday in April: the Masters.
This book is actually a collection stories, magazine articles, essays and newspaper accounts of the Masters and the characters involved with it. It has pieces from many of the most highly regarded golf writers; Herbert Warren Wind, Dan Jenkins and John Feinstein, Dave Anderson and Rick Reilly. It includes excerpts from books of many of the greatest players; Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson and Lee Trevino.
The writers, players and fans are all united in their affection for the Masters. The course and the tournament, the atmosphere and traditions are all acknowledged as factors that make this event so loved and cherished.
The subjects in the book are interesting and varied. It is separated into seven categories: Traditions, Personalities, The Course, Background, Caddies, Moments and Controversies. Some players give first person accounts of their first or favorite Masters. The men who put the tournament on are exposed in a few pieces. These are the members. They are some of the most powerful and influential men in the world. This is their tournament. They run it as they see fit and do not take advice or suggestions from anyone. This was one of the more intriguing sections of the book.
Augusta National was founded by Bobby Jones, but it was run by his partner Cliff Roberts. Roberts was called by a member as “our dedicated bastard.” He was feared by members and players alike and had all the characteristics of a slave owning Nazi. Bobby Jones is the mythical figure that we all think of when it comes to the Masters Tournament, but it was Roberts that built it and shaped it over the years.
The chapters that cover the inside of the tournament were extremely interesting. Ken Venturi and his account of the Arnold Palmer controversy were fascinating. The old Masters caddies had insights only caddies could have. The pain and heartache that the twelfth hole has caused over the years seems impossible for such a beautiful par three. Tiger Woods and his world changing victory, and Phil Mickelson’s emotional account of his first Masters win were touching and emotional.
This book has many pieces written by skilled writers who revere this tournament as much as all the players and fans do. It gives you a history and background of the tournament, accounts of many of the most exciting tournaments and intimate views of the characters that make the Masters the most popular tournament in the world.
First Sunday in April: The Masters
Introduction by Brad Faxon
Foreword by Don Wade