Observations: The greatest Masters ever, artificial intelligence and more

The Greatest Masters Ever

In the annals of golf history, few moments resonate as profoundly as Jack Nicklaus’ remarkable victory at the 1986 Masters Tournament. At the age of 46, the Golden Bear defied all odds, crafting a back-nine performance that would etch his name into the sport’s hallowed lore.

Nicklaus arrived at Augusta National in 1986 as a seasoned veteran, a man who had already secured five Green Jackets. Yet, this time, the whispers were different. Skeptics questioned whether the Olden Bear still possessed the magic to compete at the highest level. His opening rounds of 74 and 71 did little to dispel those doubts. A third-round 69 hinted at a resurgence, but he remained four shots adrift of the leader, Greg Norman, entering the final day.

Then, on that fateful Sunday, something shifted. Nicklaus, like a master painter, began to weave strokes of brilliance across the canvas of Augusta. A tricky downhiller on the ninth yielded a birdie. A sweeping putt on the 10th followed suit. And when he rolled in another birdie from long range on the 11th, the gallery sensed magic in the air.

But adversity struck. A bogey on the perilous 12th threatened to derail his charge. Seve Ballesteros loomed, playing solid golf behind him. Yet Nicklaus fought back—a two-putt birdie at No. 13, a steady par at the 14th. Standing in the fairway at the 15th, he posed a question to the golf gods: Would an eagle 3 suffice? His caddie, son Jackie, replied, “Let’s see it.” Nicklaus’ iron shot nestled 12 feet from the pin, and he drained the eagle putt.

The drama intensified. His iron shot on No. 16 never wavered, producing another birdie. A lengthy putt found the cup on the 17th. As he secured par at the 18th, Nicklaus had completed a back nine of 30—a symphony of golfing brilliance. He stood as the clubhouse leader, but Norman and Tom Kite still had a chance.

Kite faltered, missing a short birdie putt on the 18th. Norman, needing only par to force a playoff, sent his 4-iron wide right into the gallery. The dream slipped away, and Jack Nicklaus, at age 46, had pulled off his greatest Masters triumph. It was sweet vindication for the king of golf, who had weathered countless articles speculating about his retirement.

“I’m not going to quit, guys,” Nicklaus declared to reporters after his historic win. “Maybe I should. Maybe I should say goodbye. Maybe that’d be the smart thing to do. But I’m not that smart.”

And so, the 1986 Masters became a timeless chapter—a testament to resilience, experience, and the enduring spirit of a legend. Nicklaus’ winning total of 9-under-par 279 secured his record 18th professional major, making him the oldest winner of The Masters and the third-oldest winner of any major championship.

As the sun dipped below the Georgia pines that evening, the roar of the crowd echoed through the azalea-lined fairways. Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear, had etched his name in golf’s celestial firmament once more, leaving an indelible mark on the sport he loved.

Artificial Intelligence

For the record, let me say that I did not write that story on the 86 Masters, although it is very well written and factually correct. I asked Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence tool called Copilot to give me 500 words on Jack Nicklaus’s victory and that’s what it came back with. Crazy huh?

Of course, we’ve all been using Artificial Intelligence for years with things like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. They’re designed for quick question and answer hits but some of the other AI models could write a book for you. Or a historical golf piece. Or a term paper. I think the possibilities are endless.

Recently, I’ve been receiving almost daily emails from a well-known golf marketing guru in the U.S. who is suddenly writing about travel, wine, lifestyle and plenty of other topics that have nothing to do with his marketing expertise. I don’t know for sure but am pretty certain he’s playing around with AI and developing content. The articles are good but don’t exactly seem like his writing style.

Old-timers might call this plagiarism, although AI tools are more complex than that. They don’t just copy a single article, they scrape material from multiple sources all over the web based on your instructions and output a cohesive piece. It’s not so different from how we used to research something, make notes, then draft a story or article. It’s just faster. Like way faster.

Can you put your name to it? That’s the big question, at least for journalists. There’s no copyright infringement to AI generated content so nobody to complain if you say you wrote it. But my feeling is if I wrote it, I’ll put my name on it. And if I didn’t write it, I’ll tell you that too.

That brings me to anonymous sources

Some of you may be familiar with a piece in Golf Digest called Undercover Caddie. The stories of his time on tour and the players he interacted with are quite entertaining but he never names names and doesn’t even disclose his own. So, maybe it’s all made up. As an editor I’m used to fact checking stories, but these are beyond opaque. Until someone wants to own up to these chronicles, they should be in the Fiction section.


ClubLink announced this week that they have entered into a long-term agreement to operate Vespra Hills Golf Club, just outside Barrie. Vespra Hills will be a ClubLink Gold level club.


Enjoy the Masters!




Peter Mumford
Peter Mumford is the Editor of Fairways Magazine. He's played over 500 different courses in 21 countries and met some fascinating people along the way. He's also a long-suffering Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

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