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Verne Lundquist signs off at the Masters: ‘It was an honor and a privilege’

Verne Lundquist called his first Masters in 1983, his last Sunday. (Courtesy of Augusta National)

AUGUSTA, Ga. – There’s a comforting sameness about Augusta National, a sense that you could walk the grounds in 1984, 2024 or 2084 and still feel the spirit and soul of the place. The pines that have stood guard around the trail for decades will remain there for decades to come.

So when an Augusta tradition ends, it’s like one of those pines falling. There will be a quick and seamless replacement, but it will never be quite the same.

Verne Lundquist held his first Masters in 1983. He played his final holes at Augusta National on Sunday night, capping a remarkable career that featured many of the sport’s greatest moments. You know the legendary – “Yes sir!” and “In your life?” – but what made Uncle Verne so special was the way he delivered every sentence with warm grace.

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Verne – never just ‘Lundquist’ – has the soothing voice of an uncle, a man who can make up stories for hours, the kind of stories you want to write down and remember so you can tell them yourself, so much worse. If you listen carefully, you can hear a bit of a devilish edge there too, like the uncle who looks around to make sure sensitive ears are out of the room before telling the kind of story you’re telling. Real want to remember.

That warmth has made him a reassuring presence longer than most of the 2024 Masters field has been alive. That means he has been one of the voices of the Masters for generations of players, patrons and viewers. His voice has been the constant, from the moment children watch the Masters with their parents, then growing up to become Masters fans themselves and then introducing their own children to the tournament.

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Every year on the Tuesday of Masters week, Lundquist commandeered a CBS golf cart and took a slow ride around the course, touring backwards from 6 p.m. That’s a nice way to see Augusta National, but it’s also a nice way to live. – take a moment every now and then to appreciate the familiar. When you get back to the beginning, you might have a new perspective on everything.

On Sunday, Tiger Woods took a moment from his round to shake Verne’s hand, a sign of the ultimate respect that even the golfing world’s greatest have for the man. Later, as Scottie Scheffler walked from the 16th green to his appointment in Masters history, Jim Nantz thanked Verne for his decades of service. “It was an honor,” Verne said, her voice cracking, “and a privilege.” The weight of emotions overwhelmed him, and he wasn’t alone.

As long as there is a Masters, Verne’s calls will continue. But it’s not the same, and it won’t be a real hit until 2025. Starting next year, the Masters will have a different voice on the 16th hole. Whoever that is, they will do just fine; the Masters has a way of inspiring everyone to give their best. But it won’t be Uncle Verne. They certainly won’t even try.

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Verne likes to quote the classic phrase, “Thanks for the memories,” and he’s been using it a lot lately. It’s the characteristic humility of a man who knows how lucky he was to be in first place in decades of sports history. But here’s the truth: no matter how many memories he enjoyed, he created millions more.

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