It's a month away, but I can already tell you that Masters Sunday will be special. I know this because it's going to begin with Arnold Palmer winning the Masters.
The 1960 Masters, that is. "I wanted two generations to see what the magic was all about," said CBS golf commentator Jim Nantz, the man who made this resurrection possible.
We'll be able to re-live the '60 Masters, one of the more exciting finishes in history, because Nantz pried the original broadcast footage loose from the Augusta National vault, went to the incredible time and expense of having it colorized, and turned it into a one-hour show that CBS will air as the lead-in to its Sunday final-round Masters coverage.
This is footage that has never been aired since its original broadcast. The best part is, it's not presented in a highlight package with talking heads. It's shown as if it was a live telecast, featuring host Jim McKay (who left CBS later to join some upstart show known as ABC's Wide World of Sports -- wonder what ever became of him?) with coverage of the last four holes.
I watched a screening of the finished product and offer this advice: Don't miss it. The 1960 Masters had it all. A classic Arnold Palmer charge and Ken Venturi's agony of defeat. The old guard -- Hogan and Snead -- and a young gun -- some amateur named Nicklaus. There was a minor rules controversy. There was an innovative new scoring system for television invented by CBS director Frank Chirkinian. And there was the great man himself, Bobby Jones, the legendary founder of Augusta National and the Masters Tournament, holding court as the host of cabin festivities.
This show is a slice of golf history and a classic piece of broadcast history. If you hate goose bumps or nostalgia, don't watch. This show, a labor of love for Nantz, is one "Wow!" after another. Here's a short list of reasons to watch:
• The gaffe that almost cost Palmer the Masters. I had read about, but never before seen the incident at the 16th hole. Palmer is one stroke behind Venturi, who has already finished. At the par-3 16th, he's got a 30-foot uphill putt to a back pin placement. He chose to leave the pin in when he putted -- yeah, that was still legal then. He rolled a superb putt that was dead-center but hit the pin flush and kicked out six inches. Watching the footage, I'd rate it a 90 percent chance that without the pin, Arnie's putt is in. You can see from his reaction that he realizes his tactic backfired and just might cost him the Masters.
• Arnold Palmer at 30 is a lot like Tiger Woods. He bashes the ball amazing distances and putts like a genius. At the 17th, Arnie's got a 20-foot uphill birdie putt. It looks as if he's left it short but the ball rolls out and barely topples in while announcer Jim McArthur makes a Verne Lundquist-type call: "It's up and up and up and up ... and in!" Palmer half runs, half dances to the cup to pull out the ball, like Tiger after that putt at Valhalla only without the finger-pointing. At 18, Palmer stiffs his 5-iron approach, spinning behind the hole and stopping it about five feet away. He makes the putt, of course, for the win.
• More about Arnie. He is repeatedly seen puffing like a chimney with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. It looked cool in 1960, now it makes you cringe. Palmer was paired with Billy Casper, who played first from the 18th fairway and hit a shot to three feet. Before Palmer hit, Casper walked over and said something encouraging, like knock it close. Can you imagine Tiger doing that to, say, Chris DiMarco? On the green, Palmer let Casper putt out first while he walked over just off the green and -- I'm not kidding, you'll see it on the video -- spread out on the grass.