It’s April, folks. That carries with it a few given circumstances. You will get to watch a Final Four consisting of none of the teams you picked, it’s still way to early to give a damn about baseball, “collective bargaining” is trending on Twitter, and you get to watch the Masters and pretend you’ve been following golf all year. If you didn’t do a crash course on the hip PGA Tour stories like every other person watching the Masters, I have a few quick tips on how to participate in the water cooler conversations.
Minus = Under
This is the first step to hiding your complete ignorance of golf. The moment you let it slip that Mickelson is “minus two” you’ve been exposed. Proceed to the nearest exit. You get no mulligan for this one. The correct way to read the score is “two under”. Just play it safe and don’t read any scores off the screen. Just as in every other sport, everyone is watching the same TV as you. They can see what the score is. Zip it, Rain Man.
Visual cues for spotting players
The camera is not always right in the golfers face, so sometimes you can’t tell who it is. There are a few ways to impress your buddies and spot a player from a distance. This first one might be racy, but it holds true. There are only two black dudes that will be playing. One is Tiger Woods and the other is Vijay Singh. I have a feeling Vijay won’t be on the TV that often, so the black guy is Tiger. Another way to spot golfers is by what they wear. You’ll see some wild patterns out there, but two guys sport the most outlandish duds ever. There’s no telling what Ian Poulter will be wearing, but just look for the spiky blonde hair and you’ll be set. Ricky Fowler is frequently seen repping his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, by donning blaze orange attire.
Also, if you think you see Spider-Man on the green setting up his putt, it’s just Camilo Villegas.
Know your terms
You have to be at least mildly familiar with golfing terms in order to follow along with the television coverage. Here is a quick run-through. “Par” is the amount of strokes it should take a golfer to get the ball in the hole. A “birdie” is when the golfer gets the ball into the cup one stroke early. An “eagle” is when the player gets the ball in two strokes early. A “bogey” is when the ball is hit into the cup one stroke beyond par. “Double bogey” is two strokes over par, and “shit” is when you do any worse. Don’t think you’re slick because you know “hole-in-one”. You won’t see one.
Tiger isn’t the best golfer in the world
There was a time that Tiger Woods was a safe bet to win any tournament. There was a time when he was a great role model for all the children of America. There was a time when advertisers were clawing to get his name on their product. Those days are gone. Mr. Woods decided to turn his cell phone into the Penthouse forum and have an affair with any girl kind enough to open her mouth. His wife subsequently took a sand wedge to his head. After a stint in a Mississippi rehab facility Tiger made his comeback. He’s working his way back to the top, but he definitely isn’t there yet. Even if he was still the best golfer on Earth, picking Tiger makes you look like a tool. Go for an underdog.
There are some young stars out on the course threatening to overthrow the major powers on the tour. I mentioned Ricky Fowler, 22, earlier. This will be his first appearance at the Masters. His stock has been rising fast and he could present a problem for the seasoned veterans. Rory McIlroy, 21, isn’t new to the Masters. He finished 20th at the 2009 event, but is constantly a player to watch. 2011 could be the year that the young Irishman wins it all. Ryo Ishikawa, 19, will be one of the youngest players to tee off this year. His career has been up and down so far, but he’s been looking to make his break. Keep an eye out for him. He’ll be the one with a stuffed doll version of himself on his bag.
The green jacket
The green jacket is awarded to the winner of the Masters Tournament. The winner of the previous year puts the jacket on the new champion, like a passing of the torch. This jacket identifies them as an honorary member of the club.
I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked, “Where are the Masters this year?” This is not the Super Bowl, ladies and gentlemen. The Masters are held, as they are every year, at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. It is a very exclusive club and one of the most distinguished courses in the world.
I hope this information will keep you from embarrassing yourself in any Masters related conversations. By brushing up on your golf knowledge, you can look distinguished and classy. Step your game up and catch the TV coverage of the Masters starting this Wednesday.