By Lawrence Donegan | U.S. Masters 2013
Augusta, Georgia, birthplace of the Reverend James Brown – the Godfather of Soul – and home of the holiest tournament in American golf. If you’re a player or a spectator heading to the deep South this week for the first major of the golfing season- or even just a couch jockey sitting in front of the TV, there are some rules you better not break.
They’re called the 10 Commandments of the US Masters and they go like this:
1. Thou shall worship false gods. The gentlemen members of Augusta National think they are Gods, wiser and richer and more knowledgeable about golf and the world in general than mere mortals like you and I. Humour them in their pomposity. It’s their big week and, in fairness, they do put on the best golf tournament known to man.
2. Thou shall not expect a rank outsider to win the Masters. The days of a Larry Mize and George Archer type of player (ie a PGA Tour journeyman) appearing out of nowhere to beat the field are gone. There are too many elite players who are just too good. To be crowned Masters champion means too much to the best golfers for them to allow some nobody sneak in and steal the prize.
3. Likewise, thou shall not expect this week’s tournament to be a 72-hole exhibition showcasing the brilliance of Tiger Woods. The great man might be the shortest price favourite since God was a stick-on to part the Red Sea but – repeat after me – there are too many great players these days to allow even the greatest of all to run away with the prize.
4. If you’re a spectator at Augusta National thou shall not run or push or be caught with a mobile phone in your possession (automatic removal from the premises – no ifs, no buts, no “My aunt’s dying from and I need to keep in touch with home’ excuses).
5. If you’re a player,thou shalt not turn up on Thursday morning playing like a drain and hope that everything will be fine once you step onto the first tee. Augusta National isn’t the place to find your game. You have it when you get here or it’s the Friday night flight-desk for you.
6. If you’re watching at home thou shalt not go more than an hour without some witless commentator telling you the course is ‘hillier than it looks’. We know that. You told us 325 times last year. And 325 times the year before that.
7. If you’re a journalist covering the tournament thou shall not expect Tiger Woods to say anything interesting in his pre-tournament press conference.
8. Thou should be thankful you won’t have to listen to the American coverage of the Masters. Colin Montgomerie on Sky Sports might be borderline insufferable but even he doesn’t hold a candle to like Nick “me me me” Faldo on CBS. Don’t get me started on Jim Nantz, the host of the CBS ‘telecast’ and a man with maple syrup for blood and toasted waffles for brains.
9. Thou shall not expect Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to play together in the final pairing on the final day, slugging it out for the Green Jacket. God is generous, especially to those who have been good. But trust me – none of us have been that good.
10. And finally, thou shall stand by for four days of brilliant sport with more excitement than a hairspray seller taking a phone call from Donald Trump, more tension than the waistband on Monty’s shorts and more drama than Paolo di Canio making a guest appearance in Boardwalk Empire. It doesn’t get any better than the Masters. Sit back and enjoy.
Lawrence Donegan is the Guardian’s former golf correspondent. He is also author of the acclaimed book, Four Iron in the Soul, based on his experiences caddying for tour pro Ross Drummond. In the 1980s he was a bassist for the Bluebells and Lloyd Cole And The Commotions, but we forgive him for Young At Heart because he’s such a sound lad. Follow him on Twitter here.