Boswell: US Open On Magnolia Lane

Thomas Boswell in the Washington Post column (thanks reader Tim):

Welcome to the U.S. Open on Magnolia Lane. Gentlemen, check your charisma at the gate. Hit it straight, but not too far. Aim away from the flags. Think pure thoughts. Don't make the Masters galleries cheer too loudly. And win a green jacket.

They've finally done it. They're taken the "Ahhhhh" out of Amen Corner. They've Tiger-and-Phil-proofed the Masters. They've transformed Augusta National, the home of imagination, channeled recklessness and swashbuckling recoveries, into a golf penal colony. Think bad thoughts -- like "make eagle" -- and end up in jail. It's April in Georgia. Get ready to yawn?

For the past five years, Augusta National has been messing with Bobby Jones's masterwork, trying to adapt it to a new golf world where every ambulatory male crushes his tee shot half a football field farther thanks to a trampoline-faced driver and a ball designed for space travel. No additional talent required. Just buy that extra 50 yards at the pro shop. Credit cards accepted.

The Masters has found itself precisely at the center of this battle between golf equipment commerce and classic golf course architecture. So, to defend its layout from strategic obsolescence, the Masters has added almost 500 yards of length, narrowed fairways, added forests of magically mature pines, put its sand traps on steroids and built mountainous mounds.