It’s Wednesday of Masters week, which means it’s time for the annual Par 3 Contest, the closest thing you’ll find to hit-and-giggle golf at Augusta National. At a tournament known for its traditions, the Par 3 Contest is among the best, bringing together Masters competitors, legends and toddlers in caddie bibs for an afternoon of fun on the par-3 layout tucked just past the cabins off Augusta’s 10th tee.
It’s a collective exhale of sorts before the serious business of determining the next Masters champion gets underway on Thursday. And although witnessing the Par 3 Contest in person is special, those watching on TV probably will see more than the thousands of on-site spectators elbowing for position on a tight corner of Augusta property.
Two years ago, while scouting for a prime spot to catch Arnie, Jack and Gary, I wound up near the second tee just in time to watch 90-year-old Jack Fleck knock one stiff. After making a show of knocking his knees over his ensuing 3-footer, the 1955 U.S. Open champion stroked it home to roars of approval.
Still, I think the Par 3 Contest could be even better. As the plaudits continue to roll in for last Sunday’s inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt Championship – in which a corps of boys and girls took center stage at Augusta for a day – why wouldn’t the green coats perpetuate the feel-good, inclusionary vibe by inviting some of the world’s top women, present and past, to play in the Par 3?
In keeping with tradition, the female invitees would need to have won a major to qualify. But just picture the potential pairings. Bubba Watson and Lexi Thompson. Adam Scott and Annika Sörenstam. Arnie and Nancy Lopez.
Now that would be really cool.