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It’s Saturday July 19, 2026. England are 24 hours from their first World Cup final for 60 years. They are preparing for the clash with Germany with a game of five-a-side.

Sounds preposterous, doesn’t it?

A few minutes in, Harry Kane gestures to the sidelines. His eldest son, Louis, skips on in his full England strip and takes the ball from his dad and volleys it towards goal. Germany’s goalkeeper dives over it and the net bulges. The crowd goes wild! Players from both sides high-five the youngster in his moment of glory. Back home, armchair viewers are treated to numerous replays from a variety of angles.

Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?

No, not the bit about England getting to a World Cup final. But you see where I’m going with this. The Masters Par-3 Contest. The annual precursor to the biggest golf tournament of the year turned family affair so sickeningly sweet it would be banned in any other country.

While the wives and girlfriends of the biggest names in the game show off the fact they still look smoking hot in a white boiler suit, the oohs and the aahs and the awws ring out around this delicious corner of Georgia as tiny overall-clad offspring whiff tee shots with plastic drivers and smash putts ten feet past the hole.

The kids, they say, are alright.

But it wasn’t always this way. The streets will remember a time when it was a chance for the patrons to watch that particular year’s entrants fine-tune their game and show off their skills on the world’s most famous pitch-and-putt.

It wasn’t acceptable in the ’80s. Legend has it PGA Tour star Ken Green was the first to have his children carry a couple of clubs each for the Par-3. When he returned to the locker room, he found a choicely-worded letter from then Augusta chairman Hord Hardin waiting for him – the general tone along the lines of, “Please don’t do that again, Mr Green.”

But with Augusta National embroiled in an inclusivity row – in golf? I know! – it was up to a more modern-thinking Billy Payne to change things. The Contest was televised for the first time shortly into his tenure, and the WAKs began to take over.

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I’ve never really been bothered by the Par-3. Even when Jack and Tom and Gary and Arnie were all out here with their grandkids. But I’m here now so I suppose I’ll head out to ANGC’s other course for a bit to soak it all in. Maybe I’ll be infected by the cuteness of it all.

Notable in his absence is Rory McIlroy, who’s trying a new tactic in his latest bid to win the Green Jacket. Much to the disappointment, presumably, to daughter Poppy.

But for those that are here looking to change me, it’s a good start. Jordan Spieth’s son Sammy sticks his head in a bin by one tee box – presumably looking for his dad’s game – and Rickie Fowler’s daughter Maya toddles along each hole waving to the patrons. That noise you heard around 5.30pm was a thousand wombs collectively skipping a beat.

Later, Gary Woodland’s boy Jaxson does the most adorable celebration after rolling home one from the fringe, while Brooks Koepka holds eight-month-old Crew as he knocks in a three-incher.

What the hell is going on? These were golf’s spring breakers. The PGA Tour’s frat boys. As one prominent golf writer noted: “Surely only a matter of time before this cutesy cutesy, giggle-through the tooth enamel, grin-athon features a puppy gently pawing the nose of a baby seal as it eyes up a two-footer…”

I’m sorry. I tried. I just can’t shake the cynic that still lingers deep inside me. Blame it on my parents. They divorced at 12, and I spiralled through my teenage years with an emo soundtrack and a permanent sarcastic tone aimed at anyone who could stand to be in my company for more than the length of the latest My Chemical Romance track.

But you’re a dad of your own now, I hear you scream. You’re meant to see the world very differently. I know. And I can assure you that if it was me, I would have my two spending their Wednesday evening skipping round Ike’s Pond and soaking in the adoration of the commoners.

I’ll change my tune when I qualify for the Masters.

Hear more of our thoughts in our Masters daily commute episodes of The bunkered Podcast from Augusta.

author headshot

Alex Perry is the Associate Editor of bunkered. A journalist for more than 20 years, he has been a golf industry stalwart for the majority of his career and, in a five-year spell at ESPN, covered every sporting event you can think of. He completed his own Grand Slam at the 2023 Masters, having fallen in love with the sport at his hometown club of Okehampton and on the links of nearby Bude & North Cornwall.

Associate Editor

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