On this winter Friday, snow covers the ground in many parts of the country.

Even in areas where snow hasn’t fallen, cold weather has chased us inside to fireplaces and brought out winter coats and hats. Birdies and bogeys are afterthoughts in many climes. Getting to and from work and school are primary concerns.

You have to want to play golf to an extreme degree to attempt it on days when the temperature peaks out at 38 and a hard North wind is whipping the flags. Some diehards do it. Maybe it’s that heated underwear that makes it possible, but I’ve always wondered about the perhaps risky placement of the batteries in those things.

Anyway, the rest of us are ready for that first round of golf in short sleeves and shorts. At the moment, it’s a slow train coming. More snow, more winter, more cold winds await.

How will we know when spring is finally here?

Some people claim the season is virtually upon us when the first flecks of green leaves appear on the trees. For dedicated gardeners, spring officially arrives when the first seed catalog is plopped into the mailbox. Baseball nuts can see the season on the horizon when pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

The real harbinger of spring is none of this stuff, however.

Spring arrives when the Masters does.

Spring arrives when Jim Nantz, in his best and most soothing voice, rhapsodizes about the upcoming Masters round and invokes all of the ghosts still roaming the grounds of Augusta National. 

If there are dramatic storylines on the morning of the final round, Nantz can whip up an introductory monologue that will make you weep with anticipation. If there are no dramatic storylines on the morning of the final round, Nantz can whip up an introductory monologue that will make you weep with anticipation. One might suspect that he’s in his study at this very moment, crafting pulse-pounding lines that will set a scene roughly equivalent to the opening of a Star Wars movie.

It’s a tough gig, this eternal television worship of a golf course that seems to have been designed with spring in mind. Words often fall short. With all due respect to Nantz, pictures tell this story.

The camera sweeps across the immaculate fairways of Augusta National, each one perfectly groomed, not even a single blade of grass out of place. And the brilliant green of the greens, testing the color capabilities of even the newest television screens. And those azaleas, nestled in the pines? Somebody plugs them in every April, and they glow as if carrying extra current, a Southern spring show.

The calendar claims spring arrives on March 20. If you live in the golf world, you know better. It’s April. Augusta. Check with Jim Nantz. He knows these things.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.