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Masters Par-3 contest

I was a cynic, but watching the Masters Par-3 contest has led me to the light

Our club golfer could take it or leave it. But now he’s seen it live there has been a dramatic conversion

 

It always felt a bit too perfect. A convenient collection of ‘Disney moments’. Look how nice a family they are. Doesn’t he just love his kids?

When I used to fill in the ballot each year for a precious Masters ticket, I block ticked every available berth. But there was always one day that would have an ever-so-slight asterisk. Wednesday.

Perhaps that’s why I never won.

It’s the day with two heads. There are last minute preparations going on ahead of Thursday’s opening round, but a lot of the big stars have done their job and are nowhere to be seen.

The afternoon gives way to the Masters Par-3 contest.

But I want the whole day round Amen Corner, I used to think. I don’t really want to spend two hours watching slightly awkward small talk with TV reporters.

On the box, It always felt like a pre-amble. The bit you get out of the way so you can get to the really good stuff.

Masters Par-3 contest

Masters Par-3 contest: ‘It takes something to admit you are wrong’

OK, so I have changed my mind. It’s allowed.

I’d never seen a hole-in-one live. I’ve now seen five in an afternoon. Sepp Straka’s was the coolest – because the roar caught me off-guard for a second and thundered through my ear drums.

The Par-3 course itself is a lovely loosener. A 20-minute lap from start to finish with a legend always within earshot.

Walk past the clubhouse and follow the cheers. A huge lake opens in front of you and there are those incredible greens you know and love – just half the size.

Those holes are longer than you think, and harder too. But they’re just as pretty and I concede the experience is just as magical.

It was genuinely joyful watching Bubba Watson’s daughter, Dokota, hole a monster putt and leap into the air.

And I saw a side of Brooks Koepka I wasn’t convinced existed when he placed a putter into the hands of his new-born – that was three times his size – and the bravado melted away.

I’d like to tell you it takes something to admit you’re wrong. I’ll watch next year’s contest on TV with newfound admiration – and remember that the old cliché is true. You should never judge a book by its cover.

Now have your say

What do you think of the Masters Par-3 contest? Let me know your thoughts with a comment on X.

Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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