|Gary, Arnie and Jack in their prime.|
How cool would it be to see Jack Nicklaus playing at Augusta National putting on the 17th green again the hole that propelled him to the 1986 championship and his sixth green jacket? Or Arnie and Gary walking up the 18th fairway arm in arm in the first round of the 2015 Masters?
Nicklaus is an advocate of the "Tee it Forward" program that encourages amateur players to play from the shorter tees. You know, if you can't hit the ball 250 yards off the tee, then don't play courses that measure 6,800 yards. Pick shorter tees and "Tee it forward!"
With 30 of the 46 Masters champions still alive, why not offer Nicklaus, Palmer, Player and Raymond Floyd a chance to play round one of the Masters from 6,000-6500 yards? They all played in Wednesday's Par 3 Tournament to the delight of the galleries.
The annual start to the Masters is nice, with Nicklaus, Palmer and Player hitting honorary tee shots on the first hole, then retiring to the clubhouse for interviews. But it would be way cooler to see those three walking the course and playing the holes that made them legends.
Currently, there are a handful of former champions who play in the Masters (from the official 7,435 yards) but don't really have a chance to stay in contention. It won't be all that long before Ben Crenshaw, Craig Stadler, Tom Watson, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Mark O'Meara, Larry Mize, Bernard Langer and even Fred Couples (as the ageless Boom-Boom often gets in contention despite his over 50-status) will face the dilemma that Gary Player struggled with not so long ago. Will they be content to hit 3-woods into half the par fours and battle just to break 80? Or will they decide to drop out of the Masters and perhaps participate in the Par 3 Tournament on Wednesday?
Imagine it being 2020 with all those players opting to participate in a one-round Honorary Masters Tournament played at 6,000 yards on opening day Thursday. Fans would get to see their idols on the course, hitting shots into the greens with 8-irons. And most of the legends would be able to shoot in the 70s, or perhaps lower.
Why settle for pitching the ball around the Par 3 Tournament, when they could opt for 18-holes in the first round of the Masters? On the course that made them famous!
It would be a dream for the players and the fans.