Jim Austin's Vermonter at Large
Jim Austin
Jim Austin
is a freelance writer from Putney, Vermont.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 04.06.04


Green Jacket Blues

But the great Master said, "I see
No best kind, but in degree;
I gave a various gift to each,
To charm, to strengthen and to teach"

Was Longfellow referring to this year's field at the Masters? Was he predicting a close contest this year? Perhaps.

The 2004 Master's at Augusta National is a few days away. Last year's event was besmirched in the eyes of many by the feud between Chairman "Hootie" Johnson and feminist, some say "radical" feminist, Martha Burke.

Hootie won. He made some very public statements including "…the club will not add women members at the point of a bayonet."

Hootie's problem with women members was a replay of his problem with black members only just over a decade ago (Augusta allowed its first black member in 1990).

This year's Masters should be about the golf. But maybe not.

A certain dubious character named John Daly has made the cut and will be joining a most prestigious field of golfers.

If you were to be charitable to John he might be described as a substance abuser with anger management problems who has made poor matrimonial choices over the years.

If you were to spin his persona in the opposite direction you might describe him as a wife-beating drunk whose current skanky bride is facing twenty years for laundering drug money.

The federal government thinks that Daly's wife Sherrie along with her parents Alvis and Billie have laundered $1.2 million in drug money. (Do you suppose Alvis sports a mullet?)

Unbelievably the porcine Daly is considered one of the most popular players on the tour. Nobody gets an ovation like Daly.

Compare Daly's populous appeal to that of Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson is the best player on tour to have never won a major championship. That is, for you NASCAR fans, the US Open, the PGA, the British Open, and the Masters.

He is an exciting player, often throwing caution to the winds and going for the big shot over the more conservative play. People should love him but they don't.

Golf fans haven't exactly made him the enemy (like Vijay Singh) but they certainly root for him to continue his streak of losing majors.

Talk radio has stirred up a controversy about Tiger's lackluster performances over the past year or so. Tiger hasn't been playing like Tiger and the talking heads need to know why.

The argument breaks down thusly:

Tiger has dropped Butch Harmon, his former swing coach, is trying to flatten out his swing and has lost control of the ball;

VERSUS Tiger is about to get married to a drop-dead gorgeous Swedish nanny who follows him from tournament to tournament -- ergo Tiger is thinking Swedish meatball instead of Nike golf ball.

Having seen the most famous Nanny since Princess Di on the sidelines, I can guarantee you that it's not the swing -- it's the babe.

Marriage is the only cure.

Once Tiger sees her sans makeup, drinking milk out of the carton while scratching her butt through flannel jammies, he may be able to think about golf again.

I think the reason that the Masters is the most popular of the major championships is the timing, at least for people whose second car is a snowmobile for several months of the year.

Every April all the brain ulcers from three-putting have healed and the chili-dips are just another canapé in our selective memories. We're ready for some golf and the Masters starts our engines.

My pick for the big winner this year is Darren Clarke. Why Clarke? Well he's a big fat guy who likes stogies.

Sound like a winner?

(* Longfellow, The Singers, st. 6)