first_imgTraditions, despite what football on Thanksgiving, Wiffle Ball in the spring and buzzer beaters in March may have led you to believe, are not always good things.Look no further than the tradition that is “unlike any other” for proof.Celebrating its 72nd playing today, the Masters Tournament and its egocentric tagline, is one of those traditions that could use a little changing.As it is right now, nearly everything about it stays the same from year to year.The year’s first major is played at the same course (Augusta National Golf Club), with the same rules (call it the second nine, not the back nine), flowers (magnolias and azaleas mostly), bridge (Ben Hogan), jacket color (green), corner (Amen) and crowd (traditional Southerners) every year.Actually, there’s nothing wrong with any of the above. What is in desperate need of changing isn’t the layout, the trophy or the fans, but the giant cloud of superiority that hangs above the championship, standing out like a triple-bogey eight on an otherwise perfect scorecard.As if golf didn’t have enough of an elitist attitude attached to it, Augusta National makes it very clear that it is, for all intents and purposes, better than you.With its perfectly groomed course that remains a lush green despite being located under the searing Georgia sun, its flowers that seem to be perennially in perfect bloom and trees so distinguished one of them even bears President Eisenhower’s name, it looks like Mother Nature herself (and not actual creator Bobby Jones) designed it.But no matter how inviting the flawlessly manicured fairways may look, the folks over at ANGC make it all too clear that unless you plan on developing a 400-yard drive or get elected president anytime soon, you are never going to play it.Unlike many of the other great American golf courses that host majors, like California’s Pebble Beach and New York’s Bethpage Black, to name a couple, Augusta National isn’t open to the general public.For people without the last name Buffet or Palmer, getting the opportunity to play on Bobby Jones’ baby is about as likely to happen as playing Amen Corner in 3-under par.Martha Burk, formerly of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, drew a great deal of attention in 2002 when she protested the Masters on the grounds that women weren’t allowed to be members of the club.While allowing people of both sexes to become members seems like a reasonable change to ask for, Burk failed to realize that it’s not like the average, or even the well-above average, man can just sign up for the club.AGNC membership is by invitation only and it costs about a Mercedes-worth of dues per year. While that might not be a problem for people who, not coincidently, share their last names with major companies, like Peter H. Coors and William C. Ford, for those not among the nation’s wealthiest individuals, it doesn’t matter if you are a man, woman or tiger (the animal, not the golfer). The fact is you’re not getting in.Like a museum of fine art, Augusta National Golf Club is more than willing to offer you a chance to look at it, but you can never touch.Heck, even the tournament’s name screams, “We’re better than you!”Unlike the other major championships, two of which have “open” in it, Augusta National’s tournament chooses to feature a word that means “one that has control over others.”Interestingly enough, the Masters’ website proudly informs visitors that when it was time to determine the title of the tournament before its first playing, creator Bobby Jones himself rejected the name “Masters” because he felt it was too presumptuous.Five years later, Jones relented, and the tournament that reeks of exclusiveness finally got its fitting label.Make no mistake, golf is not the democratic sport of the people. It’s a game that historically has been only for the nation’s upper class. But at least it’s trying to get better. As the sport has attempted to reach out in recent years to those historically shunned by it, one tournament refuses to let down an attitude so snooty that even the members of Caddyshack’s Bushwood Country Club would be appalled.Now, the tournament is closing in on three quarters of a century of unchanging superiority. Every April people have been able to count on the Masters to come along and let them know just how much better than them the folks over at Augusta National Golf Club are.It’s a tradition unlike any other.It’s a tradition that needs changing.Mike is a sophomore majoring in political science. If you are a member at Augusta National Golf Club and would like to invite him to play a guest round, he can be reached at mackerstein@badgerherald.com. If you just have a comment on the column you can send your thoughts too, but they will be received less enthusiastically.last_img read more