Subscribe to ThaWilsonBlock Magazine $2.99/mo

WilsonBlock1000 Radio

5 Things That Made Me Happy from the 2023 Masters

Gretchen Rubin is a New York Times best selling author and host of the award-winning podcast, Happier. She has inspired me more than she will ever know. I have followed many of her suggestions and strategies for building healthy, happy habits such as a "23 for 23 List," the one word theme of the year and since 2021, I have read for 21 minutes everyday—her personal challenge. Her weekly newsletter "5 Things Making Me Happy" is something I look forward to reading every Friday. 

I have given a lot of thought to integrating this habit into my world of Sports and Spirituality. I have wondered, Should I list 5 spiritual moments in sports this week? Or 5 for 5: Sports and Spirituality in review? The idea is still cooking. In the meantime, I will offer "5 Things that made me happy from the 2023 Masters." Here goes.

1. Easter Sunday with The Masters
I am a religious person. Easter Sunday the highest of holy days for Christians. Does sharing this sacred day with a sporting event seem sacrilegious? For me, the answer is "no." 

The Masters evokes tradition and ritual, which is celebrated in profound ways at Easter Mass. I have just never found it too difficult to move from the sacred to the secular; I respect both.

I am already with my family and to watch an event with them that hails the season of spring—set amidst such natural beauty is a great way to spend part of the day. 

I still remember watching the 2012 Easter Sunday Masters when Bubba Watson earned his first green jacket. My brother and I were eating Easter dinner with a friend—so the volume was on low—and I kept thinking "this man is crying. He's really crying." A few years later, I celebrated the best Easter basket of all time, when Notre Dame women defeated Mississippi State for the NCAA title. Thank you, Arike! 

Easter is a feast day of great joy. The joy of sports the equivalent of a bonus egg!!

2. Basque Connection    
John Rahm is the fourth Spaniard to earn a green jacket. However, when people hear his last name, invariably they ask about it. Doesn't sound like a Spanish surname. That's because it is not. 

Rahm's surname originates from a Swiss ancestor who moved to Spain in the 1780s; his father is Biscayan, while his mother is from Madrid. His full name is Jon Rahm Rodriguez.

His two sons are Kepa and  Eneko which are traditional Basque names. Why Basque? Because Jon was born in Barrika, Basque Country. He is a keen supporter of the Basque football team Athletic Club Bilbao and fellow golfer Jose Maria shares that allegiance for he too is from this northeast area of ESP. 

This has significance to me and to anyone who has been touched by the Society of Jesus. Why? Ignatius of Loyola was Basque too. In 2018 when I partook in the Camino de Ignacio we went to the birthplace of Ignio. We ate traditional Basque foods, I saw the language with its distinctive alphabet and unique terrain. I hope they celebrated the success of their native son today. I would say "¡Vamos!" but that's Spanish. How do you say "Let's Go!" in Basque?!

3. Poetic Justice 
Another reason I was happy to see Jon Rahm win is because he is associated with the PGA Tour. I have not written much about the LIV tour—an issue I would have listed as one of seven  most partisan issues in America last summer.
While some people view players from the Saudi-backed tour as independent contractors, I did find myself rooting against them. I would rather cheer FOR someone than against someone else, but the reality of LIV made this difficult.

For example, one could identify a LIV player but their "team name" or logo on their hat and shirt. This concept of "team" that LIV has tried to embrace is based on literally one thing: money. At the VERY least, most teams in professional sports represent a city, a community or country. These teams are completely artificial. No coach or captain "drafts" or "signs" their athlete. They ring completely hollow. 

If you want to know more about the LIV tour, this summary from 60 Minutes: April 9 (sportswashing accusations in Saudi Arabia), the Netflix series "Full Swing" or my post LIV Golf, Temptation and The Masters are a few helpful resources. However, what is most interesting isn't the amount of money players make but how much they must pay if they want to leave. Brings a new perspective to golden handcuffs. 

Three LIV Tour players finished in the Top 10, but the definitive winner was Jon Rahm at 12 under par.

4. The Life of Jimmy Dunne
Notre Dame alum and board member, Jimmy Dunne is in the right place at the right time. As harrowing as it is to admit, he is alive today because of that truth. 

I knew that Dunne, the former partner of Sandler O'Neill is a member of Augusta National. What. I didn't know is that he would be among the first to embrace Jon Rahm, the 2023 champion.

Following an abrazo muy fuerte with fellow Spaniard, José María Olazábal the next person that Rahm embraced was none other than Jimmy D. Their hug was legit. Dunne extended heartfelt congratuations and the winner accepted his words with appreciation. I couldn't believe and then I could—of all people who could be standing in that line, one of them is Irish legend Jimmy Dunne. 

5. Great day for gambling
PGA teaching professional Keith Stewart is the founder of In Episode 134 Handicapping the Masters of The Golfer's Journal Podcast, he shares with the host Tom Coyne that after the Super Bowl, the NFC and AFC championship games, The Masters is the fourth most popular sporting event for betting. I can't say I'm surprised. I also can't say "just do it."
To pick the winner from the field? It's just so risky, but yes, it's fun. Here's a a thought...

Rather than place your money on a long shot for a huge return, I recommend participating in a Masters Pool. If you are desperate for a money line bet, consider putting your shekels on the a player making a hole-in-one. This bet is even money, but when I went to The Masters in 2016, I saw not one, not two but three aces. If I ever meet Louis Oosthuizen,
 Davis Love III or Shane Lowry, I would tell them what I saw.

If your DNA for gambling needs activity, I love the competition hosted at my club. For a $25 buy-in, you pull a pro's name from a hat. This is your "playing partner" for the day. Although he went low on Sunday, I was very happy to have Jordan Spieth "with me" on "Moving Day." At the conclusion of your own round, the player with the lowest net score and their pro's actual score, win the prize money. Many public and private courses have unique and spirited games of their own. Comment on the ones you know below.

In Conclusion
Even before the green jacket is placed on the champion's shoulder inside Butler's Cabin, a certain sadness starts to take hold. Another Masters has come and gone. The anticipation and the four day journey, leave me wishing it need not come to an end. There must a word for this sentiment. Anyone speak German? I feel grateful and gratified but aware that the time together is up.

Does The Masters make me happy. There are many more than five reasons it does. I hope you enjoyed those I named for 2023. 

Photo Credits
Long walk Spoiled
Rahm and family

Reed: Aces




Show more