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Podcast Episode 43: The Masters: the good, the bad and the ugly

Podcast

This week co-hosts Ellen and Steph give “the gist” on everything you need to know about The Masters. From what’s changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to who’s favored to win, to The Masters’ ugly sexist and racist past, Ellen and Steph cover it all. Tune in, won’t you?

November 12, 2020
Charlie Riedel  |  Credit: AP
Charlie Riedel | Credit: AP

Listen to this episode of The GIST of IT here.

Ellen: What is up GISTers? Welcome to The GIST of It, I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz,

Ellen: And we're just two old pals and our two gals and we're here to give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. We'll get to it in a hot second. But first, we have some people to thank.

Steph: Shout out to Rogers for sponsoring today's episode. Rogers wants to help connect Canadians through sport. That's why they created the team. Rogers Community Draft. Three thousand five hundred lucky young hockey players will be drafted and receive one hundred and fifty dollars to put towards league registration fees. The best part, the drafted kids will have exclusive mentorship opportunities with current pros like Bo Horvat and John Tavares. Not going to lie, I'm a little jealous. I can't sign up. Learn more at Rogers.com/getdrafted.

Ellen: Steph this weekend and this week so far. Talk about a good week.

Steph: Oh, my gosh, it felt like three weeks into one. But takeaway is it was a good week. How are you doing, Ellen?

Ellen: I'm doing great. Thanks, Steph. I'm just smiling as much as I can this week. And from a sports perspective, it's also been a great week because the NBA has finally confirmed that its new season is going to start on December 22nd, which if that isn't a holiday treat or gift, I don't know what is. Super looking forward to that league coming back.

Steph: Added it to my Google Calendar as soon as I found out. I'm stoked.

Ellen: I love to hear it. And of course, there's still not going to be fans at the NBA games because we are very much in the middle of a pandemic. But it does look like they're not going to go the bubble route and that they're going to still have teams play at their respective home arenas. But they are thinking of altering the travel schedule a little bit so that it's a little bit more baseball-like in that when teams are traveling, they'll stay in a city for more of a series so that there needs to be less traveling throughout the entire season unless one off games at different locations.

Steph: The Toronto Raptors, our beloved Toronto Raptors, are trying to find a way to work around the whole Canada U.S. border being closed and the obvious subsequent quarantine that would be required if you were to cross the border. So it's going to be a little bit tricky for that team. But rumor has it that Kansas City, Nashville or New Jersey could be a temporary home for the Raptors. And then maybe and if the borders open up again or when they could come back to Toronto at that point in time. But New Jersey could be fun. You know, that's close to Toronto. It's also the hometown of The Jonas Brothers. So that's what I'm putting my bets on for the Raptors.

Ellen: OK, I have a saucy question for you, Joe Jonas or Kyle Lowry. Who would you rather go on a roller coaster with?

Steph: Joe Jonas. Final answer.

Ellen: OK, I mean, they go so back with you, Steph. You've been obsessed with the Jo Bros for literally forever. So I do respect that answer. My answer would have been Kyle Lowry. So we could have been a perfect group going to Universal Studios or to Disney World or to Wonderland. So I like that. But speaking of the US and traveling Steph, let's get into what we want to talk about today, which is the Masters major golf tournament.

Steph: Yes, the Masters is, of course, a prestigious tournament and it starts tomorrow, Thursday, November 12th. So we're going to give you the gist on this year's tournament. But also the Masters has a very sexist and racist past. So we're also going to flag some of that as well in today's podcast. So let's get to it.

Ellen: Steph, I am very, very excited for the Masters this year, of course, this year looks a little bit different because of the pandemic, as with everything just looking a little bit different. So let's run through some high level things with the Masters in this tournament before we start to dive a little bit deeper. So first for some background, the Masters is one of the four major tournaments in men's golf. So in the PGA, normally the Masters takes place the first week of April at the Augusta National Golf Club, which, of course, is in Augusta, Georgia. However, because of the pandemic, they postponed it to November being this Thursday. It is supposed to, in theory, go back to its original date, being the first week in April in twenty twenty one.

Steph: Hmm. And just to interject here, for those folks that might be newer to golf, similar to all golf tournaments, the Masters start on a Thursday and end on a Sunday, players play four rounds of golf, one round each day. And the score is cumulative over the course of those four days. After 36 holes or two rounds, a cut is made and this cut determines who makes it into the top 50, including ties so that they qualify for play on the Saturday or Sunday rounds.

Ellen: Yeah, honestly, four rounds of golf within four days to me, plus all of the practice that they're doing as a nine and dine, nine and wine, type of gal. That just seems like so much. But I mean, this is why they're the pros and why I don't keep my score. So that's some really great background, Steph. Speaking of Sunday, the tournament has an eleven point five million dollar purse and the purse is the amount that's up for grabs across all players. And the winner will walk away with the cool two point zero seven million payout, which is not bad for four days of work. So two million big ones are going to the winner. And the winner also receives a green jacket as opposed to just a trophy, which is really interesting and unique for the Masters.

Steph: It's a little bit like culty, don't you think? Like there's pictures of the jacket going on the winner. And it just feels like this induction into something. I don't know. But it is cute. It reminds me of the early 2000s when Teen Vogue styled a frat boy jacket with a party dress and some fun tights. I think it has its moments. It could be cute.

Ellen: Oh, my gosh. I'm literally picturing Teen Vogue, but also LC and Whitney in the hills. Just try to make the Masters jacket look cute over top of whatever is in trend for that season. I actually love that comparison. So what's also really cool and different about the Masters is that once you win, you're invited to play in the tournament every single year for the rest of your life. So if you're watching Thursday to Sunday, this week, you'll notice that there are a lot of young guns who have properly qualified to play in the tournament. But there's also some older players that would have won way, way back in their prime or players who once won and are kind of bad now, but still get to come back every year.

Steph: That's nice. Good for them. Creating community. I feel like this just covers the surface of why the Masters is such a big deal in the sports world. But we're obviously talking a lot more about green jackets today, I'm assuming Ellen Hyslop.

Ellen: Yes, we're talking about much more than the green jackets, and I think the prestige of the Masters really does come down to its tradition and its exclusivity, both of which are controversial and something that Steph you and I will talk about a little bit later. But first, let's look at the tradition side of things. So the Masters started back in nineteen thirty four, which quick math is eighty six years ago. So there's a lot of history there with this type of tournament. Augusta, as the National Golf Club is one of the most famous and prestigious golf courses in the world. It's a private course, and the only way that you're allowed to become a member is if you're invited. And there's actually only about 300 members at any given time when it comes to the cost of being a member, the membership initiation fee is about forty thousand dollars and then it's about ten thousand dollars annually to play afterward, which I do have to say, Steph, surprisingly, this is very reasonable for golf.

Steph: I had to Google that because I literally thought you were joking. I was like wait what? This is a reasonable cost? I don't understand.

Ellen:  Totally for some golfers, they're like, oh yeah, that's cheap. I would definitely join Augusta in a second.

Steph: Oh my gosh. Thinking about the golf course and everything that comes with it, it is truly stunning, this golf course. It's partially why it's so famous. It's a beautiful golf course. The Masters is super well known for the Azalea Flower. That makes the course incredibly colorful and picturesque when it comes around every year when the tournament takes place in April. Rumor has it that the course sometimes uses heaters to make those flowers bloom like perfectly in time for the tournament, which is some cool or weird, whatever you want to look at. But unfortunately, the azaleas won't be in bloom, obviously, for this tournament because we're talking about November, which is sad. But there will be a nice golden hue to the foliage because we're talking about fall. And as a fall baby, I'm all for it. So it's still going to be beautiful. So we're not crying over here, but I don't think we have time to get much into this in detail today. But it is important to note the environmental impact of these courses when it comes to water use, chemical pesticides, et cetera. When we're talking about a stunning golf course and specifically heating flowers here, you can start to see the potential environmental impact of these perfectly groomed courses. So it's just something to keep in mind when we're talking about the beauty of the Augusta golf course.

Ellen: That is a really great note. I recently did just watch the David Attenborough documentary and he would be so proud of you Steph to bring that up. So thank you so much for bringing that up. Fun fact as we are talking about all of these flowers and the azaleas. The course was formerly a plant nursery. So, each hole on the course is named after a tree or a shrub, which it was originally associated with. So that's kind of fun. But flowers aside, as much as flowers are great, I want to get into who we think is going to win the Masters this year. Who knows? I might place some bets this weekend. Some of our GISTers might be placing some bets this weekend. So let's get into it. Last year, Tiger Woods won the Masters in what was probably the most spectacular comeback in sports history, period, definitely in our lifetime. But I also think one of the best comebacks ever.

Steph: There is a lot of complicated history with Tiger Woods. He was beloved, not beloved, and then seemingly is loved again. So what I do have to say about Tiger is that he makes an exciting game of golf and makes golf really exciting to watch. And because of him, he made golf seem like a sport that's not just for super rich white dudes. So it's a complicated pass. But who do you think is going to win this year, Ellen? Is it going to be Tiger?

Ellen: I don't know if it's going to be him, I mean, I would like to see it from a journalist perspective. Hell yes. Like everyone is going to be tuning into the Masters. If it's between, let's say, Koepka as well as Tiger Woods, it's going to be insane. And everyone wants to know what's going on with Tiger all the time. And if he wins this, this would be his sixth masters, which would tie the record with Jack Nicklaus, who also has six masters who I don't really like anymore given his recent tweets. So now I'd be totally fine if Tiger tied his record anyway. From a personal perspective, though, I'm going to be keeping a close eye on American Jordan Spieth or Irishman Rory McIlroy to win. Spieth has really struggled for the last few years, but has won the Masters beforehand when he was, you know, a young guy on the field. And so I would like to see him actually have his comeback because he struggled for so long and he seems to be on the up and up, whereas Rory McIlroy, I actually had the chance to watch him play golf in person in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada last year. And I just really loved the way that he played. He's a shorter guy, but he's super athletic and he's been consistent for a number of years and has won every other major. So he's won the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open and the Open, which is also known as British Open. And it's about time for him to win the Masters. But I do think they've both been kind of lacking some precision lately. And if they want to win the Masters, they need to dial in on their approach shots.

Steph: Because I'm a hockey gal, you know, I'm going to find a way to connect this Masters tournament with hockey, I'll be keeping a close eye on and maybe tuning in a little bit more to Dustin Johnson, not only because he's the world's number one, but also because he's engaged and has two kids with Paulina Gretzky, who I mean, if you recognize the last name, just so happens to be the great Wayne Gretzky's daughter. I also love an up and comer, Ellen. So while we're on that, I'm going to be looking at Colin Morikawa. He is the guy this year. He's had a meteoric rise in this pandemic year, including winning the PGA Championship, his first ever major. And get this, he's only 23 years old.

Ellen: How does that make you feel? When you see the people's ages, you're like, oh, yes, at 23, I was certainly not dialing in to becoming the best golfer in the world. But, you know, he is amazing. That's really everything that we want to cover about this year's Masters and some of the traditions of the Masters. But before we get into the very not so great history of the Masters, let's take a moment to hear from our partners. Thanks again to Rogers for sponsoring today's episode. Steph, I'll be honest, I love football and I love golf, but I'm really missing hockey right now. But hey, at least for some kids in Canada who are playing minor league hockey, it looks like that's going to be starting up again soon. And Rogers knows that a lot of children have been missing the ice and that's why they've created the team. Rogers community draft, the draft gives hockey loving children an opportunity to receive one hundred and fifty dollars toward league registration fees and exciting mentorship opportunities with current hockey pros. Learn more at Rogers.com/getdrafted.

Steph: And we're back, unfortunately, as with a lot of things, when we say something is steeped in tradition, like with the Masters, that also is synonymous and that also means steeped with racism and sexism.

Steph: Mm hmm. And the Masters is frustratingly a very perfect example of that. As we mentioned, the Masters at Augusta started back in 1934 and they kept black golfers out of the tournament for about 40 years until 1975. Lee Elder was the first black man to participate in the tournament and he wasn't invited to the tournament like some others. He qualified for the Masters by winning another tournament. On top of this, golfers' caddies, who are the folks and the people that helped carry the clubs and helped to call the shots of the men and women who were playing, had to be black until nineteen eighty three. Finally, no black members were admitted to Augusta until 1990 when Ron Townsend joined the club.

Steph: I don't think there are any words to properly articulate how disgusting that is. From the sexism side of things, Augusta only started granting women membership to the course in 2012. Time check for y'all. That's only eight years ago. Today, there are only three known female members to the Augusta Club, and if that's truly it, that would be one percent of the membership at Augusta. Those three known members are Condoleezza Rice, Darla Moore and Ginni Rometty.

Ellen: Yeah, and given everything that's happened this year, Steph and how much these conversations have really come up in twenty twenty when you see years like nineteen eighty three, nineteen ninety and 2012, that is way too recent for any of this to be happening. And the fact that there's only three women who are members at Augusta and we don't have the numbers on race for the membership, that's very private. You have to assume, though, with a history like this, there's not a lot of people of color that would be members now at Augusta. And it does seem like Augusta and the Masters know that it needs to support and include more women's golfers. So last year, they hosted a women's amateur event, which marks the first time that Augusta had ever hosted a women's championship of any kind. The first time they hosted a women's championship was in freaking twenty nineteen. And still no pro women's tournament has ever been hosted there.

Steph: Oh my gosh. Augusta really seems like they're truly capable of finding ways to maintain and reinforce white supremacy with all of these different rules and exclusions and the invite only list. They're protecting the white maleness of golf so instinctively by keeping their membership invite only and by restricting it to politicians and CEOs of massive corporations. That's a very small pool of people, which is a particular type of person that they're pooling from. This is demonstrating a true understanding of how systemic racism and sexism works, and they're obviously leveraging it to maintain this as a white male space and sport. And in this particular case, because we're talking about a certain type of member in this as well, they're using it to discourage women and black men from being successful in participating in American capitalism. The Civil Rights Act might have been passed in 1964, but they still required Caddie's to be black until 1983. So they're doing these things so intentionally and sending such an intentional message by doing that. In the early 2000s, they said that they refuse to be bullied by women's organizations and would allow women in when they felt like allowing women in. They're clinging on to this absurd birthright to discriminate. And it wasn't until last year that they held a woman's golfing event, like you mentioned, Ellen, but they chose to hold an amateur tournament, not a pro tournament, which also sends a clear message. Every one of these acts sends a very clear message, and this gatekeeping is absolutely ridiculous.

Ellen: It is absolutely ridiculous and, you know, I'm happy that at least an amateur tournament got held there and that some women were able to play there, but this is absolutely ridiculous. It does remind me of the battle of the sexes with Billie Jean King and everything that she went through in tennis where men were like, you know, who cares about women's tennis and who cares about women's sports? And what I don't understand is that the LPGA is extremely successful. The LPGA has unbelievable players. There are black players on tour like Tiger Woods who are changing the face of golf. And so to see this tournament that I have really conflicting feelings about because I love watching this tournament, I love how so many people who aren't golfers or who aren't golf fans pay attention to this tournament. But then at the same time, I hate this tournament because of everything that it stands for. But also what stood the test of time, I think, is what's killing me with the Masters is that racism stood the test of time. Sexism is still standing the test of time. And it's hard to be a fan of something like that.

Steph: It's tempting to say withdraw your viewership or your coverage of it until it gets better. But that's been tried with this Masters tournament as well. And they just said, OK, no more ads. We don't need ads this year. So I'm with you. It's one of those things where you're a sports fan and you feel conflicted about being a sports fan.

Ellen: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the biggest thing is, when we're talking about the Masters, let's not just be like rah rah rah rah. Golf is great. Let's actually have these Steph conversations and talk about it. And then people can be informed and make their own decisions as to whether or not they want to watch or to how they want to watch or to how they want to speak about the Masters on social or with their friends.

Steph: That's a great point.

Ellen: Ok, so to close out our podcast, we're going to feature a WTF moment slash story submitted by you, our GISTers. And this week's submission is from Claire in Oregon.

Steph: Claire, thank you so much for bringing this back into our field of view, if you will. So she's flagged for us a tweet that Joe Biden sent out on May 2nd of this year. Twenty twenty, the infamous twenty twenty. In that tweet, he was referencing the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team lawsuit, which was the fight for equal pay. So in his tweet, he said to the U.S. Women's National Team, don't give up this fight. This is not over yet. To U.S. Soccer, equal pay now or else when I'm president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding. So this is obviously coming back into our consciousness now that he's president. And what's going to happen with this tweet, Ellen?

Ellen: It is a spicy tweet, and I definitely do give him kudos for it, because I do think that his intent and his heart is in the right place. I do have, I guess you could say, three issues with it or three things to talk about with it. The first is that whenever we're looking at equal pay, I think that it's important to think that it's not a subtraction from taking anything away from the men. To me, when we're thinking about equal pay and what we're thinking about leveling the playing field in sports and just in life, I think that it should be one plus one equals two as opposed to I don't think that for women to prosper that men have to suffer in any type of way. I think that everyone should be able to prosper. And in the situation of professional soccer, I think that's totally doable, especially in the U.S. So that's the first thing I think that we shouldn't be taking anything away from the men. The second thing is that when you look at the upcoming World Cup and I'm assuming he's referring to the one that's going to be hosted in, I believe, 2026, that is actually hosted by North America. And it's not just the U.S. it's the US, Canada, as well as Mexico with the majority of games in the U.S. So definitely the U.S. has to do with a part of that funding and everything that's going on. But also, he cannot forget that Canada and Mexico are part of this equation. And the third thing is that soccer is extremely complicated when it comes to funding and the way that it's organized and the different levels that are involved, especially when FIFA is included in the conversation. FIFA, in and of itself, is a very corrupt organization. And so as much as the US might have some say here, when it comes to the World Cup, FIFA is running everything here at the top. And you better believe that FIFA is going to ensure that the World Cup is going to be the best damn thing every single year that they host it. So as much as I love his sentiment, I'm not sure about this tweet and what will actually happen from it.

Steph: It was great to be brought into our view. I'm definitely looking forward to perhaps this popping up again. So thanks, Claire.

Ellen: Yes, thank you, Claire. Thanks for bringing up this conversation. Love these types of conversations. And like Claire, we want to hear more WTF moments from our GISTers. It could be from the pro sports world like this one. Amateur sports world, a WTF moment from your own life, present or past. So over the next week, email Steph and I at pod@theGISTsports.com with your WTF moment or even better, follow us on Twitter. Tweet us your WTF moment, DM us your WTF moment and you may be featured on next week's podcast.

Steph: All right, folks, I was The GIST of It from Ellen and I. Thanks so much for joining us this week. If you want to help us get the word out, be sure to write the podcast, leave us review and tell your friends to subscribe to The GIST of It on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play or Stitcher.

Ellen: And if you like what you heard today, which we really hope you did, you have to sign up for our free twice weekly newsletter where every Monday and Thursday morning we give you the gist of what's going on in the sports world. Subscribe at thegistsports.com and also look for something a little special in your inbox on Sunday. Otherwise. As Steph and I already mentioned, we want to hear from you. E-mail us at Pod@thegistsports.com with any feedback or ideas and also follow us on Twitter @thegistpod. Again, I'm Ellen Hyslop.

Steph: And I'm Steph Rotz.

Ellen: And this has been The GIST of It. Take care of yourselves and we'll chat to you next week.