Consider, If You Will, a Revised Masters Playoff Format
Look, I love the Masters as much as the average guy. Maybe more.
So I state my position with admiration and affection: In case of a tie after 72 holes, I dearly wish the Masters would implement a three-hole aggregate playoff over the greatest three-hole stretch in all of golf.
That would be 10, 11 and 12 at Augusta National Golf Club. Can you imagine the first major championship of the year coming down to the 12th, the world’s most interesting par-3?
The prospect of playing the 12th for all the marbles would give Jordan Spieth goosebumps on top of goosebumps.
However, it is unlikely that Masters officials would ever take such a bold step. Why? Television.
On Masters Sunday, the final twosome goes off at 3 pm. Eastern time, give or take a few minutes. The strategy is to attract the largest possible television audience, and a 7 p.m. wrap-up at the Masters often provides a compelling finish.
A three-hole aggregate playoff would be even more intriguing, but Sunday starting times would have to be moved up to provide enough daylight for the possibility of a three-hole playoff.
The playoff would be stretched beyond three holes if the players remained tied.
The real problem, of course, does not lie with the concept of a three-hole playoff. It lies with the potential lack of a playoff, because the tournament would be over and off the air by 6 p.m. or so. That’s not late enough, because Masters officials want their tournament to join us for Sunday dinner.
Fair enough. This is golf’s most celebrated Sunday. It has been said many times before, but there is often nothing in golf to compare to the back nine on Sunday at the Masters.
The Masters is a tradition unlike any other because the tournament is right there in our houses for most of the afternoon and early evening. It is a welcome companion.
Three holes for the Masters title? It would quickly become the biggest attraction in worldwide golf.
The Open Championship and PGA Championship already have gone to the aggregate playoff system (three or four holes, depending on the layout). The first aggregate playoff at the Open Championship was staged 28 years ago, in 1989, when Mark Calcavecchia beat Wayne Grady and Greg Norman. The initial aggregate playoff at the PGA Championship was held in 2000, when Tiger Woods outlasted Bob May.
The Masters should follow suit. So should the U.S. Open, for that matter, but let’s take one step at a time.
Try to imagine the intensity of a three-hole Masters playoff. Television broadcasters talk continually about Masters pressure, but such banter would be nothing compared to a three-hole aggregate playoff ending on Augusta National’s 12th. There likely would be sweaty palms, herky-jerky swings and a few mental meltdowns.
Of course, there would be heroes. The Masters has a knack for identifying golf’s bravest warriors.
I can only dream about a three-hole playoff to decide the Masters champion. Be still, my fluttering heart.
Jim Achenbach Senior Golf Insider firstname.lastname@example.org