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Over the weekend, cold and windy rain have drenched and dampened the South; however, in Augusta, Georgia, the hazardous weather uprooted and toppled three trees at the 2023 Master’s Tournament.

On Friday afternoon during the second round of the Masters, two pine trees came down beside the 17th tee box, another tree fell elsewhere in the gallery.

“You could hear it cracking and everyone ran like hell,” one eyewitness told Yahoo Sports. Smashed chairs were visible as security guards kept patrons away from the damage.

Though no one was injured, the second round of play was suspended and resumed Saturday morning.

So… why is it called ‘The Masters?’

The Masters was the brainchild of legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones and investment dealer Clifford Roberts, who co-founded the Augusta National Golf Club in 1933.

When the tournament began it was called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. According to the Golf Channel, “Roberts suggested it be called the Masters, a reference to the ‘masters of golf’ who played in it, but Jones thought the name immodest. Roberts finally got his way in 1939.”

Augusta National was built on grounds that were once a slave plantation and was the property of a slave owner. And according to a 2019 New Yorker piece about the course, it’s believed that enslaved Blacks were housed on the property. 

“It’s a secret society, all we ask is trust”

Augusta National’s membership, thought to number roughly 300, is not a matter of public record. The club’s dues and rules are also kept secret, though it can be surmised by the reluctance of members to speak openly that not publicly addressing club matters is rule No. 1.

In 2008, Kenton Makin, who is Black, covered the Masters for The Aiken Standard, a South Carolina newspaper.

He returned to the event in 2012 and hasn’t been back since. Makin, who now hosts a podcast, said: “I call it ‘that golf tournament.’ The reason I call it ‘that golf tournament’ is I think calling it the Masters when you understand its sordid history, I think the Masters is in and of itself an ideology that literally ties back to White supremacy.”

The Masters, first played in 1934, didn’t extend an invitation to a Black competitor until 1975.

The club didn’t admit its first Black member until 1990 and didn’t offer membership to women until 2012, according to The New York Times.

The underlying problem, though, is that in golf’s not too distant past, particularly in southern country clubs like Augusta National, its right-wing tendencies have been unavoidably entwined with institutionalised and often overt racism.

Jack Nicklaus receives the Green Jacket from previous winner Bernhard Langer. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images

It was Jack Nicklaus, considered golf royalty, whom once reasoned that there were so few Black professional golfers due to their “different muscles” in 1994, according to The Independent.

What To The Slave Is The Masters Tournament

In 1983, Calvin Peete, the second Black golfer after Lee Elder to compete in the Masters, was asked his opinion of the Masters traditions. “Till Lee Elder came, the only Blacks here were caddies and waiters,” he said. “To ask a Black man how he feels about the traditions of the Masters is like asking him how he feels about his forefathers, who were slaves.”

Augusta chairman Fred Ridley and Lee Elder, the first black professional to compete at The Masters

Though Tiger Woods’ 1997 infamous comments on his self-described ‘Cablasian‘ racial identity was met with instant and sustained culture backlash, in the same year a racist competitor Fuzzy Zoeller insulted not only Woods, but all Black people.

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While the image of golf is now redefined and embraced by the culture by the likes of Tyler, The Creator and Schoolboy Q, the annual tournament celebrating Southern “Masters” will never sit right with activists and ancestors.

While sustained and increased unpredictable changes in our global climate is the logical culprit of Friday’s near-disaster, the public yet secret society at The Masters has allowed racism to fester and flourish for nearly one century without recognizable public outcry.

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Institutions are making efforts to repair their racist past

Never too long to address an historic injustice, accountability is already looking differently for institutions and companies across the globe.

For Harvard University, they’re spending $100 million on a reparations endowment fund, in 2020 NASCAR banned Confederate flags, King Charles III recently said he wants to review into the monarchy’s role into slavery, California could pay $800 billion in reparations and museums across the world are returning African artifacts back to the motherland—you can’t even buy Aunt Jemima’s no more! Yet, country crickets from Augusta National.

DEI expert Kike Ojo-Thompson states, “Most companies are set up and structured and functioning in relation to the status quo which is in relation to dominance. And that status quo says that organizations are neutral places. In other words, they are spaces that do not have values or preferences, etc. But organizations absolutely do. When we’re functioning unaware of that, and not intentionally, then it defaults to the values of dominance. When we’re not intentional, then it defaults to the values that we got from colonialism, and the transatlantic slave trade and the patriarchy.”

George Floyd’s 2020 racial reckoning birthed the world’s largest protest ever, American institutions were forced to confront themselves, their histories, and those whom have been affected by their decisions like never before.

While some organizations may do the bare minimum to address their DEI quota, the Masters continues to celebrate the storied weekend of golf without even acknowledging what the tournament symbolizes to a wide audience.

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In 2020, legendary sports journalist Rob Parker wrote an op-ed for Deadspin, saying, “The Masters never felt good or even sounded good when you said it. And before we hear from the choir about tradition and history, save it. When that history and tradition is rooted in slavery, it shouldn’t be preserved and honored.”

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...

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