Masters leaves us thankful for many things
Furman Bisher was famous for many things, including landing an exclusive interview with Shoeless Joe Jackson and covering 62 consecutive Masters Tournaments.
One of the Atlanta sportswriting legend’s most popular traditions was his annual Thanksgiving column, in which he lyrically expressed gratitude for all the simple pleasures in his extraordinary life, such as “the sound of golf spikes – the real thing – on a gravel path.”
At his memorial service last week, Bisher’s stepdaughter, Tixie Fowler, suggested everyone write their own Thanksgiving column. So, in honor of Bisher, here’s a Masters edition list of thanks.
I’m thankful for the pungent sweetness of spring onions mingled with wisteria signaling that the tournament is just around the corner.
I’m thankful for Crenshaw’s tears and Seve’s smile and Arnie’s generosity and Jack’s will.
I’m thankful for pimento cheese and egg salad and other sustenance in green wrappers that still costs only $1.50.
I’m thankful for Coca-Cola that doesn’t cost $5 at a sporting event.
I’m thankful for old pros skipping golf balls across ponds like kids.
I’m thankful for the aging live oak whose boughs have shaded the unhurried conversations of every golfing great, dignitary and scribe who’s walked these grounds.
I’m thankful for Southern drawls that sing the lyrics of the “toonamint.”
I’m thankful for the Squire, the Hawk, the Lord, the King, the Bear, the Black Knight, the Tiger and the Lefty who defined what it means to be masterful.
I’m thankful for Norman and Weiskopf and Els and Sneed and De Vicenzo and Perry, whose sufferings illustrate the priceless value of a green jacket.
I’m thankful for the wrath of a hurricane in 1929 that ensured this land would be sitting in wait of Jones and MacKenzie to uncover a gem hidden among the hills, creeks and pines.
I’m thankful for the overwhelming commercialism of Washington Road, which perfectly contrasts with the corporate-free bliss inside the gates. All those Washington Roads in every other American city only wish they had an oasis like this on their curbs.
I’m thankful for overnight showers that wash away the pollen and leave the air fresh.
I’m thankful that cellphones are not allowed under penalty of lifetime banishment, forcing everyone to unplug and share in a communal experience that is rarer by the minute.
I’m thankful for hand-operated scoreboards and the devilish staffers who work them and tease through the little windows poor spectators desperate to know the source of the distant roars.
I’m thankful for those roars.
I’m thankful for rules such as “no running” that breed decorum, and for yellow-clad kids with “Litter” on their caps who diligently keep the illusion of universal civility in place.
I’m thankful for “benevolent dictators” who sustain an anachronism.
I’m thankful for the way the light hits the azaleas in the early morning and the fading evening.
I’m thankful for long shadows that stretch across pristine fairways.
I’m thankful for everything that went wrong during its Depression-era roots to make Augusta National and the Masters so right.
I’m thankful for old champions and young rookies who break par on Thursdays.
I’m thankful for late Sunday afternoons in Amen Corner.
I’m thankful for Charlie Sifford and Pete Brown and Ted Rhodes and Bill Powell, who never played here but opened the doors for Lee Elder and Tiger Woods to trample barriers.
I’m thankful for a caddie named Amp who nurtured a lifetime memory, and another named Moses who provided a legendary piece of advice that never fails to draw guffaws.
I’m thankful that all the best players have arrived in prime form, setting up the promise of an epic major.
I’m thankful for the memory of the moment I first laid eyes on the sprawling carpet tumbling across the expanse of the old nursery. The quickened pulse and silent awe of that first step onto the grounds still whispers, “I made it.”
I’m thankful for Dan Jenkins and Bernard Darwin and Ron Green Sr. and Herb Warren Wind and Dave Kindred and all the others whose words have honored the craft while illuminating the stage.
I’m thankful to have been able to share a few of the 62 Masters with Bisher in his favorite spot, hearing him tell of Jones and Sarazen and Snead and Cobb and Shoeless Joe.