On the eve of the 78th Masters I thought it would be fitting to take a look at 72 of my favorite things about this tournament (inspired by this list).
One for each hole our new champion will have to play.
Let's do this.
1. That this is the only major played at the same track every year. It's special in that it's consistently perfect.
2. The madness of moving day.
3. Jack Nicklaus' 30 in 1986 – it might be the best nine holes of golf ever played.
4. The small fields (under 100) and the tiny cut lines (expanded to 50 recently).
5. The smell of trampled pine needles in mud and clumped grass by Sunday is quite magnificent.
6. That Brandt Snedeker said once he would trade every win he ever had for a single green jacket.
7. Fred Couples.
8. That Angel Cabrera turns into a 24-year-old Tiger Woods with the putting stroke of a mid-80s Ben Crenshaw inside the gates of Magnolia Lane.
9. If you live by a sports calendar instead of a real one (like me), it's the official start of spring.
10. That it's the only major bigger than Tiger Woods.
11. Pimento cheese -- it's overrated (because it's rated off the charts) and you can get sickly from eating one too many, but it is solid.
12. No commercials. Man, after that NCAA Tournament, I really love no commercials.
13. The ceremonial tee shot. There's nothing else like it in all of sports.
14. The rush to get chairs to Nos. 16, 17, 18 and Amen Corner on Sunday mornings at 6 AM is just unparalleled. You have to try it if only once just for the experience.
15. How much everybody else loves it (golfers included) and how little they care that every one knows that. That's a rare thing in pro sports, much less golf.
16. That Adam Scott photo in the rain in 2013.
17. The percentage of golfers who say they'd rather win this tournament than any other one is essentially 100 percent (according to the unofficial poll I just ran in my head).
18. The giddy feeling in my gut when I get that iPhone notification: "the Masters app has been updated."
19. That no matter what happens, as Scott Van Pelt tweeted at me last year, this place never lets you down. It always delivers.
20. The second nine on Sunday is almost as iconic as the tournament itself.
21. That jumpy little feeling you get in your gut when walking through the gates of the golf course.
22. That this tournament is really about fathers and sons. The Cabreras last year, the Stadlers this year, the Nicklaus', the par-3 tournament.
23. Tiger in '97.
24. Greatest merchandise tent in golf? Greatest merchandise tent in golf.
25. The no cell phone/no camera rule is the greatest. Makes the place feel a lot older than it is and just wraps you up while you're on the course.
26. The rolling out of the red carpet for amateurs. Maybe it's a little over-the-top but I think it's fitting for the tournament Bobby Jones started.
27. That music!
28. I love that the driving range at Augusta is nicer than probably 70 percent of courses that these guys play. Actually, probably more than that.
29. The attention to detail. I went to a tournament in 2009 and a bathroom ceiling got crushed by a tree on Saturday night. By Sunday morning it was completely repaired. That's nuts.
30. Watching Fred Couples miss a cut in the late 2000s and then stay at the tournament all weekend and walk with the patrons just because he didn't want to leave.
31. The solitude of a setting Sunday sun while the winner is being fitted for a jacket he'll treasure for the next 50 years and knowing that you get to do this whole thing over again next year.
32. That the place can wrap your mind around itself if you're leading on the weekend. Just ask this guy.
33. That it makes grown men weep with both anguish (Brandt Snedeker) and joy (Bubba Watson).
34. The tee shot-skipping on the pond during the practice rounds on No. 16.
35. Walking the course backwards and laboring up No. 10 like Craig Stadler on a treadmill set at 9.5.
36. This place, man, still standing.
37. The $350-a-night prices for dumpy motel rooms. OK, I don't love that but it definitely adds to the aura.
38. "Not to bury the lead, but all in all, this Masters was a very bad week for atheists."
39. That Rory wept after his Sunday meltdown in 2011.
40. Sitting on No. 16 and watching the leaders come over the hill on No. 15 trying to make eagle -- or at least not hit it in the drink. It's a stunning view.
41. My entire kitchen cup collection is just different years of Masters cups. My wife loathes this.
42. "Come on, Aussie!"
43. That volunteers for the week get paid in a free round of golf later in the year.
44. That nobody in their right mind wouldn't volunteer for a week at the Masters for free.
45. The Tiger chip on No. 16. An aside: 2005 was one of the two years between 1997 and 2012 that a member of my family wasn't sitting on No. 16 when the weekend when the leaders came through.
46. The cookie-sweet tea combo.
47. Verne Lundquist on No. 16.
48. That the locals call it "the National."
49. The monkey gland sauce Charl Schwartzel served at the 2012 Champions Dinner. I can't even imagine the look on Mickelson's face.
50. How old and different this place is and yet still perfect:
#16 at Augusta: 1934 vs 2013. The green used to be on the hill where the gallery now sits. pic.twitter.com/ZWBzBggYwG— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) April 7, 2014
51. The Mickelson leap.
52. This quote from a guy named Mac O'Grady: "This is where God hangs out."
53. Bear Tracks on No. 16.
54. Walking briskly to the green at No. 10 as the leaders go to Nos. 17-18 in anticipation of a playoff.
55. That you get tossed from the grounds for running or yelling.
56. Lefty wearing his green jacket to Krispy Kreme. That's just the greatest, most Lefty thing ever.
58. That nobody actually knows how many patrons there are in any given year. That adds to the mystery for me.
59. The Easter Sunday finishes.
60. Putting in the time here matters, you have to go through the fire. Just ask 2004 version of Mickelson.
61. My wife told me to put "the azaleas." I told her that's cliche. She said "you're at 61 and you're worried about dipping into cliche?" Good point.
62. It's not the Phoenix Open. True story: First year I went in 2007 somebody's chair got moved by another patron on No. 16 while the original chair-setter was getting beers. Dude behind me goes "my gosh, I can't believe that happened, this isn't the damn Phoenix Open!"
63. Louis Oosthuizen's double eagle on No. 2. Some friends I was with were on that hole when it happened and nearly pooped their pants.
64. The merchandise tent lists from friends.
65. The eagle roars on Sunday. There's nothing like a raucous Tiger or Phil primal yell emitting from a couple thousand golf fans. Tiger eagled No. 8 a few years ago during a Sunday charge and I got goosebumps on the other side of the course.
66. Dan Jenkins.
67. What a conversation starter a piece of Masters gear is. "Oh, you've been, tell me more.."
68. That nobody ever tees off on No. 10. It's 1-18 every day.
69. Sitting at Amen Corner on a still, chilled Sunday morning knowing what's coming in eight hours will be neither still nor chilled.
70. This story from Wright Thompson about him and his dad and walking Augusta.
71. Of all the sporting events in the world, it might not be the biggest or the best or the most profound. But it's undoubtedly the most magical.
72. That my dad will call me on Sunday mid-morning and ask “who you got?”