Good parents never admit a favourite child, but magazines need not be as sensitive.
Sports Illustrated has its Swimsuit Edition and Vogue the September Issue, and for reasons every golf fan understands we love our Masters Preview. This mark on the calendar gets us especially fussy as we plan how to best present each story across our multiple industry-leading platforms. When Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley announced the postponement of the 2020 Masters to inhibit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), on Friday, March 13, the ink on our grinning Tiger cover was drying at the printing plant. As this issue now lands in mailboxes, newsstands, tablets and phones, it shouts for additional context.
Is it tone deaf to be delivering a tip on how pros pitch off the notorious against-the-grain lies of Augusta when our country is in a state of national emergency? I don’t think so. If sport, always healthful and historically on the vanguard of peace and tolerance, gives meaning to your life, there’s no reason to apologise. As recreational golf figures out if measures like social-distancing from playing partners and raised cup-liners render the game safe, all of us locked in our houses should embrace whatever psychological escapes are available.
As it is, our Masters Preview is largely a deeper look back at 2019, when the extra thread in the greatest of all Tiger’s five green jackets was young Australian Lukas Michel’s thrilling win in the US Mid-Am that punched his ticket to Augusta National. He talks about the thrill of such an achievement, the many practice rounds he’s already had on golf’s hallowed turf, and the incredible story behind his family’s decision to move to Australia so he could pursue his dreams. There’s some consolation to be had in these memories not being replaced just yet.
As of now, the consensus around COVID-19 is, nobody knows. But the story of civilisation is littered with all sorts of crises, and each time, that especially resilient and adaptable animal homo sapiens has found a way forward. From the staff at Australian Golf Digest, we hope our Masters Preview (with a bold asterisk) offers an amount of surrogate joy in this dismal start to our season. We really hope there’s a Masters this October, and we can make another special preview for you then.