Be careful what you wish for.
An old saying, sure, but one that still holds true. Particularly true for golfers in the coming days when they get their first 2022 look at Augusta National and dust off their annual proclamation: “Man, what I’d give to play that course.”
For 99.99% of you, there’s no need to be careful with that wish, because you have a better chance of meeting Elvis than plunging a tee into America’s most famous green turf.
“One hundredth of one percent? So you’re saying there’s a chance!”
OK, there’s a chance. And let’s say you’re offered that chance … at a price.
What would you give up to play those 18 holes?
Turns out, one in 17 of you would put your pet up for adoption. One in 50 say they would do the same with a kid. Their own kid, presumably. Frankly, I think I know that kid.
All these numbers come from a fella named Ben Treanor at a website called Time2Play, which bills itself as an “independent source of information about online gambling.”
Time2Play says it polled 1,047 golfers and tossed out a wide range of hypothetical scenarios that would lead to a round of golf at the home of the Masters Tournament. Well, a hypothetical round.
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There’s the usual juvenile stuff — leading the polling was “shave my head” at a surprisingly low (to me) 43.2%. Some 57% of you haven’t gotten word about hair being overrated? Crazy.
Next in line is “stop drinking for a year” at 35.8%, followed by “give up video games for three years” at 35.1%, and on behalf of the membership committee, allow me to step in here for a moment.
Augusta National has no problem serving you sweet tea to wash down your post-round egg salad and peach cobbler, but if the TV room in your house has anything with a joystick, circuit board or, frankly, anything with the word Nintendo on it … well, let’s just say you’re probably not Augusta National material.
Back to the polling, where it says 9% of you would give up sex for a year.
Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing 100% of that 9% helps make up the 64.9% who wouldn’t give up video games.
More than one in four (27.9%) would quit golf for a year after putting out on the 18th green, and again let me step in here.
There’s a decent chance you wouldn’t want to play golf for a year after that round. Here’s where we return to being careful what you wish for.
Augusta National and the Masters Tournament have a friendly history with the media, dating back to club co-founder Bobby Jones, who was particularly gracious to those who worked with typewriters. Among the niceties is an annual lottery, from which a handful of media members are selected and given a tee time for the Monday following the tournament.
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A lot of flight plans have been altered over the years due to luck of the draw.
My name was picked in 1990, which was my fifth Masters and the first in which I took the clubs and entered the draw. Once you’ve been picked, you can’t enter the lottery for another seven years, and I’ve never re-entered it, which either tells you how humbling that course is, or screams something about my inability to handle such a humbling experience.
Maybe you don’t mind taking 42 putts to navigate 18 greens — each harder to decipher than the US tax code. In Braille. On the first green, when you’re looking at right-to-left 15-foot putt and the caddy taps the ground six inches to the left of the hole and says “aim here,” you get the first clue.
Another: Third hole, par-4, good drive and good 9-iron to perfect 9-iron distance, only to have the caddy say, “Get up.”
Get up? Ah, one of those “false fronts” Johnny Miller loved to talk about. Ball doesn’t hold. Slides down off the front edge. Chip looks like it’ll stop in range of a par putt but doesn’t, instead catching an invisible slope and sliding to the back fringe, 30 feet away. Stab-in-the-dark par putt goes six feet past. Straight bogey putt breaks three inches and misses.
Let’s review: Two perfect shots to a short par-4 result in a tap-in double. Since it’d be tacky to call a cab to the third green, you slump toward the fourth tee and say to the caddy, “Gonna be a long day, ain’t it?”
Yup. Six o’clock. Got to see a governor, though, and a senator. Got a picture on the Hogan Bridge, and another putting with Rae’s Creek in the background. Moving up to the member tees on the second nine helped. Slightly. Glad I did it, but going forward, it was best to just watch others who stand a fighting chance.
Remember, be careful what you wish for. Which takes us back to the poll, where 17% said they’d get a visible tattoo — from my modern-day observation, it seems the other 83% already have one.
In closing, let’s head south, because you have to visit the very bottom of polls like this to find the folks with whom you should avoid eye contact.
Yep, there it is — of the 1,047 golfers polled, eight said they’d give up a finger after their round of golf at Augusta National.
Once those greens have sapped away your golfing dignity, what’s a lost digit? Leaves you just enough to count up the nine whacks you took on the eighth hole. True story.
— Reach Ken Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org