Nostalgia at Augusta: Missing Huber, Azaleas and the Big Easy


AUGUSTA, Ga. – The year’s first major normally doesn’t make GTC nostalgic, but the subdued press center on Sunday got us thinking of all the things we will miss at this year’s Masters:

Nathan Smith. In three trips down Magnolia Lane the affable former U.S. Mid-Amateur champion has never made the cut, but his straightforwardness was always welcomed.

For example, after signing for a second-round 77 last year he sighed, “I tried on every single shot. I really did.”

Furman Bisher. The longtime sports writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution died in March and as a tribute, Augusta National officials have left his traditional seat in the media center empty with one of his signature “Masters” bucket hats sitting on the desk.

We were lucky enough to grab a hurried lunch with Bisher last year and can still remember how young he sounded when he talked about the 1986 Masters.

Ernie Els. The Big Easy has had plenty of chances to play his way into the field but failed to deliver. Still, the South African has played every Masters since 1994 and finished runner-up twice and that effortless swing always seemed to fit Augusta National perfectly.

Azaleas. Blame it on global warming if you want, but strangely missing from the grounds surrounding the clubhouse (journalists were not allowed on the golf course on Sunday) were the bright flowers that have come to define the tournament.

Jim Huber. The sportscaster and essayist died in January and was every bit a Masters tradition as pimento cheese and green jackets.