Teed off (01-04-2012)
with Robert Bicknell
Amazing, the truth was finally came out when Tiger Woods admitted to multiple counts of infidelity against his caddie, his dog and his gardener. He has voluntarily checked in to the Betty Ford Centre for substance abuse, specifically lawn fertiliser, and will miss the Masters.
Then, of course, this is April 1st, aka "April Fools Day", so it's a safe bet I made that story up.
However, what isn't a joke is Tiger won his first ‘real' tournament since returning full-time to the PGA Tour. OK, the Arnold Palmer Invitational isn't exactly a screaming nightmare of an event, and anytime you're around Arnie, it's a bonus.
But a win is a win, so we have to give Tiger credit for getting back on the A-list again. For a while, the golf world worried he might become another David Duval.
One of the cable sports channels has been showing past Masters tournaments and I gotta tell ya, I can never get enough of looking at Augusta National. But something struck me while watching the events…The R&A might claim to be the protectors of golf, but the truth is that it's really Augusta National.
OK, do you think for one second that the shenanigans which go on at almost every Ryder Cup would happen if it were held at Augusta National? Fuggedaboutit!
The first cry of, "Hey Monty, you suck" would be followed by the sound of handcuffs being clicked on and four hefty Pinkerton security guys dragging the clown out by his feet. Yes, they'd probably gag him as well. You simply do not get out of line there.
If the Lords of Augusta decided that every player would have to use hickory shafts in a Bobby Jones Memorial Masters tournament, do you think the elite players would dare to no-show? Trust me, they'd be there.
My point is that people simply don't do things at Augusta National that they would do elsewhere. People dress pretty nicely when attending the Masters as a "patron." They don't yell, scream and act stupid. They act like ladies and gentlemen, which is what players and aficionados of the game are supposed to be. Augusta National is another world and the rules are enforced.
While the USGA and the R&A are unquestionably the final word in rules and promotion of golf in general. But, when it comes to protecting the true spirit of the game and etiquette, I don't think anyone beats Augusta National.
Imagine, a professional tournament where food and drinks are reasonably priced. Where souvenirs are highly sought after and, again, reasonably priced (considering the venue). Where the members of the club are actually strolling around to help visitors find their way (OK, maybe not as much nowadays as in the past, but if you see a green jacket, you know who it is).
Err, while you might be tempted, if you do encounter a member during the Masters, try to restrain yourself from asking really dumb questions and forget asking anything about the inner workings of the club because these guys will just smile as if to say, "nyah nyah,nyah…you're not a member…"
While The Old Course at St Andrews will always be regarded as the birthplace of golf, Augusta is a reminder of how things are supposed to be.
Now then on a similar and not so different note, it's time to start praying for an invite to the annual Norfolk Invitational Charity Golf Tournament which will kick off at Thu Duc on Saturday, April 14.
The reason why it deserves mention in the same breath as the Masters is that they have a lot in common.
First off, both are impossible to get into if the organiser doesn't invite you. Secondly, manners and etiquette are highly valued. Third, the prizes are always top quality and only go to those who really deserve to win.
And fourth, the legendary Great White Shark, Greg Norman, who used to thrill patrons at the Masters in his prime due to his attacking style of play, will be attending the Norfolk event to help promote his new private club and residences in HCM City, the long awaited, Sai Gon Country Club&Residences (SGCCR).
If any club in Viet Nam has a chance of replicating Augusta National's spirit, SGCCR is it. — VNS