Inside the Augusta Cocoon

Craig Jones, Allsport, Getty Images
Craig Jones, Allsport, Getty Images

When Tiger Woods announced he'd make his comeback at the Masters, a British bookmaker immediately installed him as a 4-1 favorite. A surer bet also available for gambling types online -- even though the odds make it a virtual coin flip -- is whether Woods will have to step away after addressing the ball because of a heckler.

Having been to Augusta several times, I'd say it's not likely to happen. And certainly not more than once.

It's not that I'm absolutely sure no one will heckle him. If someone does, though, that's when the truly stone-cold lead-pipe betting odds kick in. There's a 100 percent chance that person will be escorted out, never to return. And a 99 percent chance he or she will be dunked in Rae's Creek on the way just for good measure.

A Trip Down Magnolia Lane

Tiger Woods has chosen the Augusta cocoon for obvious reasons. And reminders of why will present themselves to him as soon as he turns off Washington Rd. onto Magnolia Lane -- a paved entry to the Augusta biosphere named for the 61 magnolia trees that form a canopy stretching 300 yards to the clubhouse. [Image courtesy of Flickr user drod5044.]

That drive down Magnolia Lane was usually when the great golfer Lee Trevino started fidgeting. Trevino skipped the Masters for a few years and later admitted it was a mistake. But the exclusivity of the place always made him feel uncomfortable.

Merry Mex, as he was known, knew if he weren't a golfer he wouldn't be welcome anywhere near the place except through the kitchen. So Trevino refused to use the clubhouse even to change his shoes in the early to mid-1970s, choosing instead to use the trunk of his car as a locker.

Tiger Woods never knew that Augusta National. The club invited its first African-American member in 1990, years before Woods played at Augusta. For him, Augusta National is a safe haven, a place where he has not only won four times but where everything around him promises, as always, to be as controlled as a movie set. Once he parks his car, he'll go to the clubhouse. But not just any clubhouse.

Upstairs, above the one where invited golfers will dress, Woods will share a clubhouse with the past Masters' champions. Even the privacy at Augusta demands more privacy.

Media Relations

Woods will meet the media on the Monday after Easter. The issuing of media credentials is more limited at Augusta than at other tournaments. Not that TMZ or other outlets that made such an industry of the Woods scandal would've ever been welcome inside for the Masters anyway. But the credential application deadline passing before Woods announced his return allows the club to tell any number of media outlets, "Sorry, too late."

A club member emcees the player interviews at Augusta National. So when Woods does meet the press, he'll have a friendly face beside him orchestrating the proceedings. To say the treatment the emcee gives a guy like Woods is deferential doesn't quite cover it.

I've joked that usually by the time the interview is completed, Woods' shoes are spit shined, his ironed golf shirt collar is given turndown service and he's leaving a tip for the 30-minute chair massage. But I'm really only ruling out the the tip.

The media is allowed inside the ropes at most golf tournaments. Not at Augusta. At Augusta, everything and everyone conforms.

Lunch Break

The prices for Augusta National's famed pimento cheese sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches haven't changed in years. They are wrapped in green paper, the litter under express orders to blend in should a gust of wind send it flying off for a tour of the course. [Image courtesy of Crazy Alex Luck.]

For the Birds

I began covering the Masters for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in the mid-1980s. I shared a handful of Masters tournaments with my co-worker and friend, Dave Kindred, winner of the Red Smith Award and long-time columnist for Golf Digest.

"(The Masters) is closer to what it started out to be than any sports event in the world," Kindred wrote me recently. "Bobby Jones wanted to invite his friends to his place. Still does. It's his place, not Budweiser's, not Traveler's, certainly not CBS's (it's the only sports event, I'd guess, that takes LESS money than a network could be muscled into offering).

"In exchange, it sets the rules of commercial time, use of network promotions, maybe even the bird sounds. There is less commercial signage at Augusta National than on the zipper of any NASCAR hero suit. I can say that because there is NONE. Nobody does that. Not even Wimbledon, where there's a Rolex sign at Centre Court. Good God, Augusta tapes over the Coca-Cola logos at the concession-stand soda fountains. Coca-Cola, the elixir of Atlanta!"

Once, Kindred tells me, he was hard-up for an early-week column. He watched workers mow the fairways. The precision impressed him. He thought he could make a column out of it. So he waited for the tractor/mower man to finish.

"Except when I stopped him, he said, 'No comment,'" Kindred remembered.

Kindred's reference to the "bird sounds" was in response to my mention that some reporters for years have walked around the grounds of Augusta National at a Masters tournament hearing the sweet songs of birds celebrating spring. Yet, some contend, they never actually see any birds. Were they donning camouflage?

Now that's control.

The Masters' Slogan Clearly Isn't "Have it Your Way"

"¢ In 1966, Jack Whitaker of CBS refers to the golf fans standing around the green as a "mob." Augusta National prefers "patrons." Whitaker isn't invited back.

"¢ In 1994, Gary McCord of CBS, looking for a way to get across how fast the Augusta National greens are says the club "doesn't cut the greens, it uses bikini wax." He said the lumpy terrain looks "like body bags." That was his last Masters. They don't just eject hecklers at Augusta. They eject golf announcers, too.

"¢ When Lee Trevino balked at the $90 badge fee for his son one year, he vowed never to return to Augusta. Masters tournament chairman Hord Hardin wrote Trevino, saying, "We'll miss you but we'll try to go on without you."

"¢ But by far the most glaring example of how insular Augusta can be, and also how it handles controversy, happened when Martha Burk took aim at its male-only membership policy in 2003. Representing the National Council of Women's Organizations, Burke wrote a letter to Augusta National Chairman Hootie Johnson urging the club to open its door to women members.

Three weeks later, Johnson wrote her back, calling her letter "offensive and coercive." He said the club would admit women on its own timetable. He evoked the old south by saying the club would not act at the "the point of a bayonet."

Burk put pressure on Masters sponsors to cut ties with the event. Augusta answered in a truly remarkable fashion, by putting on a commercial-free telecast. Burk arrived at Augusta National with a couple dozen supporters to protest during the tournament. They were further marginalized by the crazies -- a cross-dressing clown and a KKK member among them.

Crowd Control

Augusta National refers to the people who walk through its gates to watch the Masters as "patrons." Not fans. That's short for fanatics. Not galleries. Patrons. Every hole has a name associated with its predominant tree or shrub. So No. 1 isn't only No. 1. It's Tea Olive. No. 3 isn't just No. 3. It's Flowering Peach.

Golfer Mac O'Grady, who enjoyed a reputation as, shall we say, a free spirit -- OK, OK, his nickname was "Whack-o Mac-o" -- explained his poor play one year by saying he was "overcome by the biophilia" (an appreciation of life and the living world).

Golf fans are overcome by it, too, which is partly why the Masters ticket is so cherished. In the old days, tickets remained in the same family forever, but somewhere along the way the club revoked its family-succession plan. Tickets had to be used by the person named and could no longer be handed down or handed off to relatives.

When Kindred worked in Atlanta, he lived in the small town of Newnan, Ga. So did long-time Masters "patron" and cartoonist David Boyd. Boyd once quoted his aging mother to Kindred for a column.

"I visited her in the nursing home," Boyd told him. "Mother said to me, 'Every night I go to bed praying to die. Every morning I wake up praying thanks I'm alive. The Lord's keeping me alive for some reason. Only thing I can think of is the Masters tickets.'"

The story has long persisted that Augusta's membership never knows what its yearly dues are. Members are billed at the end of the golf season, the idea being that if you feel the need to ask what you're going to owe you're not Augusta material.

So if extra security is needed for Tigers Woods, I'm betting the club will probably be able to scrape it together.

6 Protective Mask Bundles You Can Get On Sale

pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus
pinkomelet/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Daily life has changed immeasurably since the onset of COVID-19, and one of the ways people have had to adjust is by wearing protective masks out in public places, including in parks and supermarkets. These are an essential part of fighting the spread of the virus, and there are plenty of options for you depending on what you need, whether your situation calls for disposable masks to run quick errands or the more long-lasting KN95 model if you're going to work. Check out some options you can pick up on sale right now.

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You’ve likely heard about the N95 face mask and its important role in keeping frontline workers safe. Now, you can get a similar model for yourself. The KN95 has a dual particle layer, which can protect you from 99 percent of particles in the air and those around you from 70 percent of the particles you exhale. Nose clips and ear straps provide security and comfort, giving you some much-needed peace of mind.

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These three-ply, non-medical, non-woven face masks provide a moisture-proof layer against your face with strong filtering to keep you and everyone around you safe. The middle layer filters non-oily particles in the air and the outer layer works to block visible objects, like droplets.

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At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Double Play: The Curious Life and Career of Ozzie Canseco

Otto Gruele, Allsport/Getty Images
Otto Gruele, Allsport/Getty Images

“Jose, we love you! Jose, you suck!” It’s 1992 in Louisville, Kentucky, and a man who bears a striking resemblance to major league home run king Jose Canseco is smashing baseballs out of Triple-A ballparks for the Louisville Redbirds, the minor league sibling of the St. Louis Cardinals.

A screen erected specifically for home runs at Pilot Field in Buffalo, New York, fails to contain one 550-foot drive. The ball goes over the screen and past the highway.

“Good job, Jose!”

Before and after games, the six-foot-two, 220-pound slugger will be asked about dating Madonna (he didn’t), antagonized into fights (he avoids them, mostly), and begged for autographs. When he signs his name, fans appear confused. They tell him to stop joking around. Doesn’t he know he’s Jose Canseco, perpetual All-Star and prolific masher of baseballs? Who ever heard of Ozzie Canseco, Jose’s identical twin, born two minutes earlier to Jose Canseco Sr. and his wife, Barbara? And if they are identical, why is it that Jose was earning millions as a member of the Oakland Athletics while Ozzie only made sporadic appearances in the majors?

Ozzie tried to explain all of these things over and over again. Every time he thought people got the message, he would head back out into the world, hearing his brother’s name. Once, a car veered and tried to run him off the road. When Ozzie hit the shoulder, the other driver laughed, as if it were a joke, and then referred to him as Jose.

 

There are relatively few examples of twins who excelled equally in sports. Ronde and Tiki Barber were both selected in the 1997 NFL Draft and had successful careers; Karyne and Sarah Steben, both accomplished gymnasts, toured with Cirque du Soleil and credited their psychological connection with helping them perform difficult aerial feats.

More often, siblings of star athletes idle in the shadows cast by their high-achieving counterparts.

Hank Aaron’s brother Tommie joined him in professional baseball. Hank hit 755 home runs during his career; Tommie connected with 13. There were three DiMaggio brothers, though it was Joe—the onetime husband of Marilyn Monroe—who stood out both on and off the field. Had any of these men looked identical to their famous brother, it would have compounded the comparisons. It’s unlikely anyone ever tried to run Tommie Aaron off the road.

Ozzie Canseco plays for the Oakland Athletics in a Major League Baseball game
Otto Gruele Jr, Getty Images

Born on July 2, 1964, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Capas Canseco and Jose Canseco would soon be another sports sibling story.

The two were barely a year old when their parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba. Both grew up learning to play "the great American pastime." Jose, an outfielder who could wallop a ball out of sight, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 1982 straight out of high school. After polishing his skills in the minor leagues for three years, he briefly debuted as a late-season call-up for the Athletics in 1985. His official rookie season came in 1986, when he went on to hit 33 home runs and knock in 117 RBIs, resulting in Rookie of the Year honors.

Ozzie, who had played as much baseball as his brother, decided to take a year for college. Instead of being a power hitter, Ozzie had gravitated toward pitching. The New York Yankees drafted him in 1983. After four largely unimpressive years on the mound in the minor leagues, he was released by the Yankees and picked up by the Oakland Athletics organization in 1986 to further develop his skills.

It amounted to a genetic experiment in sports: Two men, nearly identical in build—Jose was an inch taller and perhaps 10 pounds heavier—who played the same game for the same amount of time. In 1989, the two even suffered the exact same injury to the hamate bone in the hand. Yet it was Jose who became a sensation, earning exponentially increasing millions and stats for the Athletics and the Texas Rangers, while Ozzie struggled to get called up.

The problem, according to Ozzie, was that he had pitched for too long, refining a skill that wouldn’t pay the same dividends as an outfielder and star hitter. All those years pitching put him behind Jose and behind the game. When he was finally called up to the Athletics as an outfielder in 1990, the difference in ability when compared to Jose was obvious. After 20 homers and 67 RBIs with the Huntsville Stars farm team, he managed only a .105 batting average in nine MLB games during his first season, striking out in 10 of his 19 at-bats. Meanwhile, in 1988, Jose became the first MLB player in history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season—a feat only three players have replicated since. When Ozzie struck out in his first Athletics game, Jose hit two home runs.

 

Pundits tried to break down Ozzie’s deficiencies. Superficially, he had everything Jose had, including a powerful build that was likely bolstered by steroids. (Jose admitted to using performance-enhancing substances in his 2005 tell-all book, Juiced; Ozzie was arrested for driving in a car that contained vials of steroids during a traffic stop in 2003. Jose later told VICE that Ozzie "used the same type of steroids I used and in equal amounts.") But experts pointed out that Jose was more flexible, with a better range of motion in his swing and a faster sprint. He seemed to be more aggressive during play, too. These were subtle differences, but enough for Jose to make three World Series appearances while Ozzie toiled in the minors.

Ozzie Canseco bats for the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game
Otto Gruele Jr, Getty Images

Dejected, Ozzie headed for Japan to play for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes to sharpen his game against different kinds of pitches. Playing for the Japanese equivalent of a farm team in Osaka, he quit midway through the season to return to the U.S. minors, joining the Louisville Redbirds, the Cardinals Triple-A team. In 1993, he got a chance to jump on the Cardinals for six uneventful games. When Bernard Gilkey came off the disabled list, Ozzie was bumped back down. In frustration, he briefly quit baseball before signing a contract with the Triple-A arm of the Milwaukee Brewers and, later, the Florida Marlins.

After being released by the Marlins in 1996, he remarked it was the first summer he had not played baseball since he was a kid. While other people may have confused him for Jose, baseball’s management did not.

 

If Ozzie was never quite his brother’s equal on the field, he found parity in other ways. For years, rumors circulated that Ozzie would show up in place of Jose for autograph signings. The two also got in nearly equivalent legal trouble for a 2001 nightclub brawl in Miami Beach that ended in probation and a civil lawsuit against both.

In what was probably their most audacious attempt to fool people, Ozzie reportedly showed up for a 2011 celebrity boxing match claiming he was Jose, who had performed in prizefights against the likes of Danny Bonaduce. Promoter Damon Feldman claimed he had paid Jose $5000 and that he was confused when Ozzie finally removed his shirt. (He lacks the bicep tattoo sported by his brother). Feldman had him escorted out and filed a complaint for breach of contract, winning a default judgment against Jose for the $5000 advance and travel expenses. Feldman later expressed doubt he had ever actually met Jose. (On Twitter, Jose Canseco denied Feldman’s claim that he had sent Ozzie in his place.)

In 2015, Ozzie was named the hitting coach for the Sioux Falls Canaries, a Double-A team in South Dakota. Not long after, he and his brother once again confused onlookers when Ozzie fooled his on-air correspondents into thinking “Jose” had arrived to film a segment for his role as an analyst for an NBC broadcast. It was a bit of levity that may have indicated that the years removed from the field had allowed Ozzie to feel more comfortable—both in his own skin and his brother’s.

It was a long time coming. Speaking to Sports Illustrated in 1994, Ozzie lamented the peculiar reality of resembling his brother in every aspect but the one that mattered to him most. “It’s difficult to explain my existence as Ozzie Canseco on a daily basis,” he said.