Ben Crenshaw has been under the spotlight for most of the past month. Everyone wants to speak with him, including reports, well-wishers, family and friends.
They all have the same subject in mind to talk about – the Masters. It’s a favorite topic for discussion at anytime for Crenshaw, especially when spring arrives, the azaleas begin to bloom and the golf world’s collective eyes focus on the first major of the year.
However, this time around the questions will not be about dangerously dicey putts, baffling winds or even his two previous wins. Talks, especially starting the week of the Masters, are all about Crenshaw closing one more chapter of his golfing life.
On Thursday, Crenshaw will make his last start as a player at the Masters. This will be the last time he tees off on Thursday or walks up the fairway of the 18th one of the most iconic settings in golf.
You can stop crying now. Crenshaw will not play any longer, but he certainly is not going away. He will remain each year at Augusta presiding over the Champions Dinner.
He has simply withdrawn his name from competition, no longer on the course with Carl Jackson (his caddie) at his side. No more competing on the one course he has always loved to play and one that has given and taken away so much in his career. Crenshaw and Jackson have been together as a team for a run of 36 years. This last Masters will be the 44th for Crenshaw, but the 54th for Carl Jackson.
Crenshaw is very emotional and everyone will see that this week as he plays his last rounds of competitive golf at the Masters. He will shed a tear or two and most who watch will follow suit.
Those who do not know him often wonder if his nickname Gentle Ben fits the man. It certainly does, now. He is the consummate Southern Texas gentleman. However, when Mr. Crenshaw was given that nickname in his college days it was tongue and cheek. His temper was big back them. He was known to throw or even break a few clubs and mix it in with a tantrum or two. His temper flared even as a pro, but today he laughs off the time he kicked a trash can at the Colonial.
Crenshaw played his first Masters in 1972. He won his first in 1984 and added a second in 1995.
While all eyes will be focused on those competing to win the Masters this week, golf legends and those, who remember back to 1984 and 1995 will be focused on the 18th fairway on Friday afternoon when Mr. Crenshaw takes his final walk up the fairway ending another chapter of his storied golf career.
It will be another idyllic scene at Augusta National.