The Masters Tournament starts this week, and, as a thank you for Spencer's heartfelt writing about Augusta National last year, the organizers arranged for Jim Nantz to write this special guest column.
Hello, friends. I'm Jim Nantz, and It's a pleasure to join you today even though I usually only use the Internet to write passive-aggressive reviews of cigar bars and communicate with my antique weapons dealer, Leopold. Thanks to a colossal blunder by my agent Brian, instead of enjoying a safari weekend with Michael Dell, I'm here to share my Top 18 with you, the common reader.
(And yes, that means you're fired, Brian. I don't care that your kid just got into Cornell. Maybe they'll accept your pathetic excuses in lieu of tuition.)
18. Disney Fast Pass. Ah! I like it because it involves having planning and money, the oldest daggers to the working man's ambitions. Excellence sits up front, even on Splash Mountain. ESPECIALLY on Splash Mountain.
17. Holding A Private Event In A Museum Wing. America's temples of art and antiquity represent the best of our society. The chance to see priceless artifacts in a pristine setting is truly a privilege, which is why I block off the West Pavilion at the Getty once a month for a private event. There's no gala or dinner or auction, mind you. I do this simply for the love of ruining some grubby child's field trip.
16. Mitch Albom's guest bathroom. Always stocked with Mitch's custom-made Yankee Candle fragrance: Misunderstood Dad in an Airport Bookstore.
15 (tie). Croissants. I use them instead of paper towels.
15 (tie). Mailing your taxes in. E-Filing is so impersonal and doesn't allow me to add a personal note to the U.S. Government in which I subtly remind it that it has never sent me a thank you note.
13. Finding your neighbor's hidden key under a rock and putting it in another neighbor's garbage can. A neighborhood needs a little adversity to build character.
12. My smooth jazz trio, Let's Nantz. We take the uneven and unnecessarily frenetic works of David Bowie and reimagine them as slow, buttery tunes for sophisticates.
11. Crash. A bracing film. An HONEST film.
10. Merlot. The one wine even Phil Simms can name and enjoy. He pronounces the "T" but I'll count it anyway.
9. Greek yogurt. Vanilla, perhaps with some anti-oxidant rich blueberries. As white and wholesome as the shores of Pebble Beach itself.
8. Sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. The room temperature at which a pair of khakis sits perfectly relaxed, yet filled with a certain unflappable integrity unbroken by the ravages of humidity.
7. My close personal friend George W. Bush. A leader and an artist.
5. Connecticut. The Land of Steady Habits.
4. The Patek Philippe Watch I will throw into the nearest sewer in front of my grandson. If he understands dignity, he'll walk past it. If he understands value, he'll dive after it. Either way it's a test of character, and that's the most important thing of all.
3. John Schnatter. When it comes to character, the man...delivers. [long stare toward camera]
2. Robert Trent Jones. I leave a golf ball on his grave every April as an offering. I then take two, because let's be honest that's a fair exchange rate for death-tainted golf balls.
1. Burnt hot dogs. Imagine the splendors of ancient Pompeii, learned scholars and poets lounging by the seaside pondering the future of civilization. Now imagine those same scholars, their bodies caked in hot ash and their lives ended in one spectacular moment of natural fury. That's why I order my hot dogs scorched beyond recognition - so I can imagine I'm eating the fingers of a Pompeiian senator. This is the card I keep on my person when I attend a cookout.