The biggest golf tournament of the year is underway as the Masters begins today with coverage on ESPN.  The traditions of the Masters broadcast are ingrained into the minds of any golf fan.  From the footage of the ceremonial first tee shots, to the awkward handshake between Billy Payne and Jim Nantz to that one part near the beginning of daily coverage where Augusta thanks its sponsors (and Martha Burke) for limited commercial interruption.  But the most traditional of all Masters TV traditions is the iconic theme song.  The Masters theme isn't just one of the best and most recognizable themes in sports, but all of television.  The piano and strings that play over the images of Augusta National and the soothing vocal tributes of Jim Nantz are a yearly ritual of springtime.  For decades, you've likely heard this version:

Yea, it's easy to make fun of just how over the top the reverence for the majesty of Augusta National is from the CBS broadcast, but it's part of what makes the Masters the spectacle that it is.  It's different from everything else.  The Super Bowl doesn't have a theme.  Neither does the LSU-Alabama game.  Nor the Winter Classic.  But when you hear that willowy music, you know you're watching the Masters.

The instrumental version is nearly perfect for the event, which is why it's largely been untouched for longer than I've been alive.  But did you also know the original theme also has lyrics?  Something tells me if CBS played this version, it wouldn't quite stir up the same feelings of nostalgia and sentimentality:

Well, it's springtime in the valley on Magnolia Lane
It's the Augusta National and the master of the game
Who'll wear that green coat on Sunday afternoon?
Who'll walk the 18th fairway singing this tune?
Augusta, your dogwoods and pines
They play on my mind like a song
Augusta, it's you that I love
And it's you that I'll miss when I'm gone.
It's Watson, Byron Nelson, Demaret, Player and Snead
It's Amen Corner and it's Hogan's perfect swing
It's Sarazen's double eagle at the 15 in '35
And the spirit of Clifford Roberts that keeps it alive
Augusta, your dogwoods and pines
They play on my mind like a song
Augusta, it's you that I love
And it's you that I miss when I'm gone.
It's the legions of Arnie's Army and the Golden Bear's throngs
And the wooden-shafted legend of Bobby Jones.

The music is iconic, but the lyrics are painful.  Not Accidental Racist painful by any means, but there's a reason CBS has stuck with the instrumental version for years.  These are terrible.  I really hope Tiger Woods isn't singing "Augusta, your dogwoods and pines, they play on my mind like a song" if he's walking up the 18th fairway on Sunday.  I'd hope his mind is on more important things, like a hilarious Facebook photo album with Lindsey Vonn in his new green jacket.

The song pays tribute to history's greatest golfers, which you might expect for a song about a golf tournament.  But Clifford Roberts?  The same former Augusta chairman Clifford Roberts that said, “As long as I’m alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black."  Maybe it's best that we don't pay tribute to that side of Augusta and just remember the strings, piano, and springtime.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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