Carlos Ortiz, of Mexico, watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament on Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

OK, wow, what a great beach day. Sand castles. Check. Burying your oldest in the sand check. A couple of afternoon CoColas. Check, and double check.

The water is too cold, but so it goes, and we are on the beach within view of the wrecked ship some of you folks have referenced. Cool indeed.

So as we hit the midpoint of Spring Break — man, like NASCAR drivers and really good movies, they go too fast, right? — let's enjoy the day.

From the satellite studios and wondering if there's an island called St. Garfunkel, let's do this.


Masters love

Yes, this is my favorite week in sports, and yes, it's because the Masters is my favorite event of every sports year.

Sure, I'm more emotionally invested in Auburn football, but that, as Luke Combs tells us, is like diamond rings and bound to break a young man's heart. And a middle-aged man. And an old man.

(Side note: Luke Combs is good at country music. Here's "Long neck, ice-cold beer never broke my heart" from which that line is lifted.)

(Side question: Has it become boring to be an Alabama fan? I ask earnestly. When defeat is that random and that unexpected, sure it's great Monday through Friday among your buddies, but since Saturday is almost a foregone conclusion, is the luster lost or the passion paused?)

Anywell, nothing is as consistent or true or randomly expected and expectedly random as the Masters.

It honors its traditions and its champions, but everyone is treated the same. It believes in its history, and builds on it by being cutting edge in almost every way. When faced with controversy, it listens. It may not always agree — right Martha Burk — but it's not tone deaf either.

The Masters hosting a female amateur event was truly ground-breaking for the women's game. The Masters granting the most coveted invite in all of sports to winners of Pan-Asian and Latin amateur events is world-level inclusive, for the game and for humanity. It's hosting of the Drive, Pitch and Putt championships is a lifetime level reward for a national push to grow the game.

And all of that is background chatter come Sunday. When the roars return and the birdies are flying between the shadows of the East Georgia pines.

I've always said it's the only major players have to go take, and that's what makes it my favorite. But there is no singular thing, no line item more than the rest.
It's The Masters, in all its glory.  

And there's a real chance that for the first time since early 2020, this weekend — even with limited patrons on the grounds — this will feel like the most normal event of the past 13-plus months.


Masters contest

OK, you know the drill, and gang, this is up there with the college bowl contest in terms of numbers.

The Masterfully Mastering the Masterpiece that is the Masters contest is easy. And, as Bluto told Larry Kroger and Kent Dorfman of the beer at the Delta house rush party, "Don't cost nothin'" so jump right in.

The rules are easy. Pick five golfers, and the top four scores count. You get points for the finish — so if you have the winner, the two dudes who tied for second and the fifth-place finisher, you get 10 points and likely be in good shape — and low score wins.

Deal? Deal.

And the interest is pretty excellent. We're at more than 30 entries right now and expect a bunch more today. Deadline is before play starts tomorrow morning.

I'm sure I got yours, and if you are interested send your five players to

First, we have multiple 5-at-10 entries. Mrs. 5-at-10 is going Rory, Jordan, DJ, Zach Johnson and Harris English. The young 5-at-10 is in with Sergio, Xander, Rahm, DJ and Bryson.As for me, well, there are two names I think will be almost everywhere on these slips: DJ and Jordan.

So for that reason, I'm going contrarian with each.

I have four set, and since Rory doesn't tee off until 10:42 tomorrow morning, I'm waiting on one final spot.

Give me Tommy Fleetwood, Cam Smith, Patrick Reed and JT. My other two are Bryson or Rory.

Thoughts and send it in, Jerome.


Voting fall-out

Man, the debate rages on. And the partisan angles are everywhere.

Take this lead to the morning briefing on The New York Times email:

"The Georgia law is part of an ongoing effort by the Republican Party to making voting more difficult."

And if I counter with a very simple one-word change, it's just as hard to argue with:

"The Georgia law is part of an ongoing effort by the Republican Party to making voting more secure."

And if you want to discuss motive, which is a fair discussion, because the next sentence in the unabashedly liberal New York Times — which is another institution that has made my job harder in the modern spectrum because of its unflinching spin on every story, especially every story about the South — deals in goals:

"The Georgia law is part of an ongoing effort by the Republican Party to making voting more difficult, mostly because Republicans believe they win when turnout is low."

Because, couldn't the casually cynical folks among us raise the question that Democrats are fighting this so hard, "mostly because Democrats believe they win when turnout is high" just as much as equality?

Because this column on Yahoo, which originally appeared in the National Review, a conservative publication, the math of the matter shows the decision to move the MLB All-Star game to Denver was not only knee-jerk, it was complete jerk.

According to census data: Atlanta, where the game was to be played, is more than 51% Black; Denver is 9% Black. Hmmmmmm.

Colorado already demands for a photo ID for voting, whereas Georgia allows ID or last four of a social security number. Hmmmmmm.

Georgia's new law has more expansive early voting than Colorado. Hmmmmmmm.

And that 'Draconian' no water in long lines angle that made Joe Biden make the asinine "Jim Eagle" line and others to call the Georgia law Jim Crowe on steroids, well, Colorado has that law already on the books. Again, hmmmmmmmm.

The author of this column — again, I know the leanings of the National Review — says he used to live in Colorado and the state would blanket send mail-in ballots to every registered voter.

Is that what is more inclusive, because that seems fraught with opportunities for fraud, no? And the author attests it's not uncommon for ballots to be mailed to former addresses, kids who have moved out, wrong houses and even dead folks who are still on the rolls.

Yeah, that sounds like a peachy keen solution.


This and that

— This story blew my hair back, as someone at LawnStarter says Chattanooga residents are the sixth-most stressed among the 191 U.S. cities surveyed. Seriously.

— While I am not in town, the run of well-done news stories by my colleagues at 400 East 11th Street deserve mentioning. This is direct and fair and frames the partisan angles of a nonpartisan election like the race for Chattanooga mayor. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Sarah Grace Taylor is goods at her job.

— Speaking of pro's pros, TFP state and national government ace Andy Sher is such a veteran he may be the only person in Nashville who has covered the debates about the bust of Nathan Bedford Forest and actually interviewed Nathan Bedford Forest. Kidding, kidding, of course. Here's a very interesting story on the Tennessee Senate's decision that public schools must inform parents about LGBTQ topics and allows parents to block their children from taking part in lessons involving the LGBTQ. I understand the intention, truly, but gang this seems heavy-handed. Yes, I am the same dude who is against transgender competition in school-sponsored sports, but pretending something or someone doesn't exist is not the answer either. Granted, no age range is given here, and I'm not super giddy for my fourth-grader to get back from St. Simons and study RuPaul in social studies. But for older kids, not sure the ostrich approach is ever a sound plan. I've had conversations with my middle-schooler about all kinds of uncomfortable stuff, including LGBTQ issues that were actually raised by LGBTQ people on Wheel of Fortune and American Idol believe it or not. And man, for the kids wrestling with those types of heavy decisions, to even hint that it's something that others must be warned about and are in some ways fearful of, is a rotten message to kids already wrestling with some heavy issues far above their pay grade.

— Also, saw a TFP story online about Nashville hot chicken. Excellent stuff, and whomever in Music City put a tag on that, bully for them and Nashville. I had Nashville hot catfish last night down here on the island, and friends, it may have been the best catfish I've ever had. Seriously good stuff.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall's prose on Willie Martinez and UT's goals for the secondary. Side question: Willie Martinez is like the JT Walsh of SEC assistants. Every time you turn around, there's a movie on TV and up pops JT Walsh in a small but important role. Same with Martinez, who is making his second stop in K-Town.

— Not sure what my baseball viewing future holds considering the moves of the last week. In fact a regular around these parts sent me a text yesterday that Ronald Acuña, who is right there with Luka Doni as my favorite athletes under the age of 25, had homered in each of his first two ABs. I had little interest to be honest. After-the-fact checking, I see the Braves gave away a 6-5 loss and are 0-4. Man, the MLB's decisions and the Braves' icy start looks like their trying to make it easy on a vast majority of Georgians to find another way to spend out summer, no?

— The great baseball stats that catch your eye on social media are amazing. Like the all-telling-everything-wrong-with-baseball stat line from Phillies pitcher Vince Velasquez last night. Dude pitched 1.1 innings and had strikeouts on all four outs. He also allowed four earned runs and allowed four walks without allowing a hit. That's right, he fanned the side in the seventh, walked four around his fourth strikeout in eighth before being relieved and all those dudes left on base scored. And everyone is talking about the oddity of the box score. What about the simple fact that this dude faced eight hitters — roughly 20 minutes of action — and not a single ball was put in play. That's the pace of play issue baseball must work through friends.


Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which place was your spring break destination of choice?

Which Masters heavyweight will miss the cut? (Sadly, I think it could be Rory, but I'm likely picking him anyway.)

Which is your favorite fish to eat? (I know a lot of you are going to put shrimp and that's fine and understandable. So far down here, I've done a delish grouper, a well-crafted gumbo and last night's catfish, which believe it or not my be this heavy-set redneck's favorite of them all.)

As for today, April 7, let's review. Russell Crowe is 57 today. No word whether he's related to Jim Crowe.

What makes his Rushmore — Russell's not Jim's? Go and remember the contest and the mailbag.