The voice is soothing, deep, inviting; the hazy images of rolling green lawns are calming and pacific; the promise of gentlemanly competition and world-class demonstrations of skill are oddly enticing.
It’s the Masters…on CBS. It screws you up.
I used to like watching football. I used to get excited about March Madness and filled out brackets. I even watched Ronda Rousey beat up another chick, and felt strangely stirred. But one year, I saw the commercial for the most important golf tournament in the world, and I said to myself: I should watch this. It looks nice.
That was a mistake.
It took only a few minutes for me to be hooked completely. There were flowered trees filled with chirping birds; there was the gentle ripple across a course pond. Elegant, casually dressed men silently drew their drivers from neatly organized bags and composed a turn on the tee: Thwap! There goes the ball, microscopic, almost impossible to see amidst the blue-white sky, soaring higher, higher, higher! and lower, lower, lower: plop! Bounce, bounce. Ahhh.
What the hell was this?
Before I knew it, I was admiring the cut of a devilish sand trap and the artful twist applied to a swing through the rough. I was silently critiquing the sartorial choices of some of the more flamboyant players (too much argyle, dear sir—tsk, tsk) and developing brotherly affection for all of the disheveled shamblers named Bubba. I scanned the leaderboard for their progress, and wondered where I could get their dashing yet practical visors. Soon, the sun had set and I was watching replays online and reading FiveThirtyEight.com statistical projections of who might win the next day. Should that be “whom?” I don’t know—both ways feel right.
What is happening to me?
I knew I had to tune in the next day, so I canceled my plans to head to the gym and lift myself onto the treadmill. I called my sister and said that I couldn’t come to dinner that night, though I knew full well that there would be nothing to do but obsessively analyze what’s wrong with Tiger Woods, who is not in the tournament. But the promise of such gloriously beautiful, fundamentally soothing golf broadcasting was too much to hold me to my responsibilities. I needed another taste—screw late-season NBA! Fuck trying to start my Harley! I am watching golf, and I don’t care what you think about it. Golf is nice.
Soon it was over, and I entered a fugue state of massive withdrawal. I agonized over Bubba’s failures and quibbled in online comments about Jordan Spieth’s socks (were those diagonal stripes? Come on, man). I called in sick at work and put on dark glasses and an embarrassing full-head cap for fervent forays into Dick’s Sporting Goods. (“Looking for clubs?” the saleslady asked. “No, no,” I assured her in a desperate stage whisper, “just curious.”) I was gone—far gone, like a ball flying off a Callaway driver down a five-hundred yard straight. Thwap! Higher higher higher; lower, lower, lower…plop. No bounce.
I needed golf. I craved golf. I must have it. Nervously, I picked up the phone and called the hotline. I placed my order. I waited for a full day…and then it came in a nondescript little brown box. I quickly unwrapped it, stuck it in, and exhaled, feeling the intense pleasure only bucolic scenes of manicured turf can provide. Golf! The ESPN Master’s Tournament compilation DVD was playing.
Ahhhh…the Masters…on CBS. You’re just fucked.