Every April I immerse myself in the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. The Masters is the first major golf tournament of the year and includes all of the top golf talents. The action on the course is intense and closely contested. The Masters stands alone as a premier sporting event. But it can be viewed through a different lens. The Masters is also great theater. As good as anything performed on the Great White Way or by the best of Elizabethan acting troupes.
The tournament is a four-day passion play. The plot includes twists and turns, protagonists and antagonists spotlighted on the leaderboards so audience members can follow every scene. The main character on day one can end up in a supporting role come day four. A veteran award-winning star can hit the stage dramatically, then be overshadowed by a fresh-faced new talent. The heroes come in all shapes and sizes and from all corners of the world, with colorful names like Bubba, Rory and Lefty. And the villains can be inhuman, like the benign looking par-3 12th hole that has ruined many a solid performance or the peaceful, meandering Rae’s Creek with an evil soul that swallows up golf balls along with someone’s dream.
The Augusta National wardrobe department includes a variety of fashion statements . There are the crisp, white costumes worn by the caddies. The young, GQ-dressed performers with their trendy multicolored straight-leg trousers and flat-brimmed hats. And, of course, the piece of wardrobe as famous as Dorothy ‘ s ruby-red slippers that every actor in this theater hopes to wear when the curtain closes, the green jacket.
The Masters is always played before sold-out audiences. Patrons are treated to daily performances with edge-of-the-seat scenes that elicit silent anticipation alongside outrageous performances that generate full-throated shouts of appreciation .
Augusta National Golf Club is a historic, venerable theater as well-known as the Globe, the Metropolitan Opera House and the Apollo. The stage at Augusta includes lush green carpeting on sloping fairways surrounded by pine straws strewn like freshly-tossed rose petals. The Georgia pines stretch their branches and cover the stage like angel’s wings. All illuminated by vibrant pink, white and red azaleas that shine like spotlights. Plus, no other theater greets its patrons with a majestic lobby like Augusta’s blossoming tree-lined Magnolia Lane.
I am sure a performance of Les Miz at the Broadway Theatre is wonderful. Death of a Salesman at the Booth Theatre, mesmerizing. Citizen Kane showing at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, moving. But for pure, exhilarating drama with world-class performers in a breathtaking amphitheater, there is nothing better than an April performance of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.