What If? A BTS Masters Preview

Editor’s note: Before big Tour events, one member of our Broken Tee Society One & Done league pens a preview. This year Virginia’s Bill Potter went above and beyond with his Masters effort, published below with his permission, along with photos from fellow member Andy Tupman.

What if?

Since the apple tree in the garden, the question has gnawed at the backs of our minds.

The Masters is no different. 

What if Scott Hoch makes his 2-footer in 1989? 

What if Phil Mickelson doesn’t go 5 under on the back nine in 2004?

What if Fred Couples had found the water on 12?

What if Jordan Spieth hadn’t?

What if Roberto Di Vicenzo had signed the correct scorecard?

What if it hadn’t rained on Sunday in 2019, or Saturday in 2021?

What if Greg Norman’s dad hugged him more?

Andy Tupman Masters 1

What if?

Like the early-morning fog on the first tee, the question hangs over us. We can ponder the permutations that follow “What if?” forever. Whether it’s taking that leap to marry our partner, going for the green in two or accepting that new job, those fork-in-the-road moments visit us all.  

In 2018, the golf world was left to wonder what would have happened had the cup not intercepted Patrick Reed’s putt at the 17th on Sunday. Would Rickie Fowler have permanent dinner plans in Augusta every April?

That same year, I was forced to consider what would have happened had my best friend, and brother-in-law, not been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Would I think about that Reed putt nearly as much?

What if that wasn’t the last time Geoff and I got to watch the Masters together? Would the game matter to me as much?

As the ball hangs in the air, it holds all the possibilities in the world. 

What if?

What if I didn’t play a fade at the pin on No. 12?

What if they cut the banks just a little bit higher?

What if I still had 40-plus years of mediocre golf left with Geoff?

Andy Tupman Masters 2

What if?

What if I account for my adrenaline on 16?

What if this shot lands tight?

What if I find the narrowest of windows out of the trees in a playoff?

What if I trust my caddie to play this putt outside the hole?

What if I take this job and absolutely crush it?

What if?

The question can haunt us, but also become the impetus to double down on our goals and ambitions.

For Rory McIlroy, that meant orchestrating one of the most dominant U.S. Open performances in recent memory just three months after a historic Masters “what if”—and this April may represent his best chance yet at completing the Grand Slam.

For Scottie Scheffler, the question seems to be, “What if he keeps this up?” A run of transcendent play since the 2021 Ryder Cup has him returning to Augusta as the defending champion and favorite to bag back-to-back green jackets.

For Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and others, that Augusta National “what if” still lingers. Can they turn recent form and championship pedigree into a first green jacket?

For Jordan Spieth, “what if” cuts both ways. But can the golfer who perpetually contends at Augusta National avoid the errors that have plagued his recent tournaments?

Andy Tupman Masters 4 Tiger Woods

For me, the question centers on taking that leap and leaving behind a 15-year career in college athletics. And more importantly, finding a time every round to look up, thank Geoff, and let him know how much I miss him. To hope that he’s seen how our shared game has become a refuge to me over the past five years. And to remind myself there are far worse things in life than topping a 3-wood. 

What if?

The question will whisper through the Georgia pines again this week, and someone—many someones, actually—will have to provide answers. Those answers may not be what we expect, or want. 

For some, the allure of the Masters is watching an individual reach the pinnacle of their profession through precise shot-making, putting, and mental strength. 

For others, like me, it’s a chance to relive—and relate to—the tournament’s litany of what ifs. Sure, your 2-footer may not have been to win a major. It might have been to break 90, or 70, or to win a club championship. But you know the feeling. 

And come Sunday evening, I’ll empathize with both the champion, basking in the light of a what if gone right, and with the cadre of contenders driving out of Magnolia Lane muttering the same question.