This ain’t your granddad’s golf tournament

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, April 9, 2014

On my list of “sports to watch” golf is down the list a ways. It is sandwiched between UFC and soccer (albeit miles ahead of professional basketball).

But this weekend is just a tad different.

The Masters, played this Thursday through Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club, is must-see TV. You have to tune in not only for the action on the links, but also to get on the fun from the gallery.

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The stars of yesteryear, such as the regal Tom Watson, the stoic Jack Nicklaus and lovable Arnold Palmer are gone, along with their quiet, well-reserved fans.

In to the new age steps a group of bold, brash, tell-it-like-it-is golfers and a whole new breed of golf fan.

Heartthrobs Ricky Fowler and Rory McIlroy will get cat calls from young female fans, chants of “Duff” and “BOOOO” will be heard when Jason Dufner and Boo Weekley come to the green and loud yells of “MASHED POTATOES!” Will echo off the glorious Augusta pine trees when former champion Bubba Watson rips a mammoth drive down Tea Olive or Firethorn.

While horseracing has long been considered the sport of kings, golf has been the chosen sport of American royalty. And there is no better kingdom than Augusta National.

Augusta is a private course, meaning you have to be a member to play there. The list of members includes, and excludes, former presidents, celebrities and even actual royalty from nations across the world.

But like I said earlier, this weekend is different.

During The Masters, the common man is allowed to latch on to his favorite player and tag along for 72 holes on the most respected course in the game.

This brash new group of golfers allows the casual fan to get interested because they see someone like themselves doing awesome things.

Young college-aged fans see Fowler’s shaggy hair and all-orange golfing attire and think that just maybe, they could hack with the best.

Country folk, a large non-golf demographic, see Weekley’s camo shirts and Dufner’s dip lip and feel that they are welcome.

And nearly everyone in the world knows a game named Bubba.

For the first time in almost two decades, Tiger Woods will not be in the tournament field. While Woods has struggled in recent years, he was always the favorite to win The Masters.

With Woods out, the door is wide open for one of golf’s new stars to don the somewhat-stylish green jacket.

Who knows if one of the real-life Happy Gilmore’s will take home golf’s ultimate crown? All I know is that The Masters is one golf tourney you don’t want to fall asleep to.