A New Englander's Take on Golf
April 17, 2024
From Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979 to Scottie Scheffler in 2024, David Westin has helped chronicle the winners and the happenings at the Masters. (Photo by Alex Miceli)

AUGUSTA, Ga. – There is a place where history is its foundation and those who create it are solemnly cherished decades after their final tee time. As for those who chronicle said history, well, at Augusta National they, too, are held in high esteem.

So this is not to wax poetic about the ghosts of Hogan and Snead, Nelson and Demaret, Palmer and Casper – great Masters champions, all of them. No, this is to write respectfully of “The Ghost,” which might be his nickname though it is always offered in reverence to a man whose connection to the Masters covers parts of six decades.

“I’m a dinosaur,” laughed David Westin, 68, who last week covered his 46th Masters but boastfully interjects that he also attended three times as a patron. That means there is the potential for No. 50 next April, but better to savor the richness of Westin’s career than to spring into the future.

And what a Masters career it’s been for Westin, the longtime golf writer at the Augusta Chronicle who now covers the tournament he loves so much for the Gannett Company.

“When I see you, I think of you as the ‘face of spring,’ ” Nick Price once said to Westin and there isn’t a golf writer worth his or her salt who wouldn’t know that the three-time major winner’s comment was a supreme compliment.

That’s because as part of Westin’s commitment to provide great depths to the Augusta Chronicle’s Masters coverage, he would travel to a pair of March tournaments on the Florida swing. Players like Price knew questions from “The Ghost” were not going to be about the golf played at Doral or Bay Hill or the Honda; no, sir, this was Masters preview time.

Consistent with Westin’s quiet humility, his roots have a simplicity to them that make you smile. His father, an Army man, had two stints at Fort Gordon in Augusta so David lived in town from kindergarten to fourth grade, then again as a junior and senior in high school. Loyal Georgian, Westin went to the University of Georgia and when he graduated in 1978 he joined the sports staff at the Augusta Chronicle.

“I always knew what I wanted to do,” said Westin, who subscribes to that famous writers’ anthem – I hate writing; I love having written. He also loved golf, so when he saw a chance to combine two passions, he pounced.

“No one wanted to cover local golf, so I did,” said Westin. “I did what no one wanted to do.”

The Masters cannot be categorized as “local golf,” even for an Augustan, but it was a short commute for Westin when he made his debut in 1979 and saw Fuzzy Zoeller win. Eight years later, he got tabbed to write the lead about a win by fellow Augusta native Larry Mize and he’s been doing so ever since.

For four rounds in each of his last 38 years, Westin has produced the lead story for his readers and anyone in the business will tell you that it’s the most challenging of assignments. Columns, features, color pieces, notebooks, sidebars . . . they are all of a single focus. You never feel a need to be comprehensive when you take on those roles.

But leads? You best have your eyes in six different places and be able to change on the fly. In this day and age of people wanting to pontificate and offering to write “pieces” – whatever in the world of O.B. Keeler they are – those who can write quality lead stories are few and far between.

“Like I said, I’m a dinosaur,” Westin said on a week when he would author his 152d consecutive lead, dating back to 1987. “My obituary will probably read, ‘He wrote (fill in the number) consecutive game stories from the Masters.’ ”

Of course, he isn’t a dinosaur. He can regale you with Masters stories to keep you entertained for hours.

Like the time he signed on as a caddie at Augusta National and worked on his days off for extra money. When he saw Billy Morris, owner of the Augusta Chronicle and an Augusta member, Westin tried to duck away but he was spotted. Thought he was in trouble, too, only Morris shook his hand and said he was proud to see employees “so industrious” to pursue work on days off.

On his first Masters, back in the early ‘60s, Westin went with his father and his uncle. “I remember sitting with them at the 11th hole and they’d bet on which player would hit it closest to the pin.” Later, a flask would be passed from brother to brother and David Westin was upset they didn’t share with him.

“I didn’t know it was gin. I thought it was 7-up,” he said.

Even as a young reporter, Westin felt comfortable in front of Masters competitors. Ah, but inside when he had to sit and write – and Westin has called three facilities his home for the week of the Masters, the Quonset Hut, the original Press Building, and now a spectacular and sprawling Press Building – he would look around and be in awe of those brilliant wordsmiths from the big cities.

“I was intimidated by (Herbert Warren) Wind,” said Westin. “But I read him and admired him.”

To Westin, the legendary Jim Murray was the guy who once wrote “Gentlemen, start your coffins,” in a column about the Indy 500. There was Bob Verdi, who quipped that golfers “were going off at 2:45, Augusta time” to show what reverence writers had for the Masters. Dave Anderson, like Murray a Pulitizer Prize winner, once suggested that young writers make a point of to pick up the Augusta Chronicle every morning “to see what you might have missed,” and as the iconic names get rattled off, Westin feels honored to have shared Press Building space with them all.

Truth is, Westin’s small-town roots have been central to his low profile, but he needn’t take a back seat to anyone when it comes to the Masters. He’s poured his heart and soul into this tournament and his work speaks for itself.

As for being called “The Ghost,” the nickname is owed to a former Augusta Chronicle colleague, Robert Naddra, who went searching for Westin one afternoon.

Westin’s story had landed in the queue, so they knew he was inside the Augusta Chronicle sports department. When he finally found Westin, Naddra said, “You’re like a ghost.”

The name stuck and all these years later, Westin remains a man whose string of beautiful words about the Masters are must-reads and they are appreciated by many, even if a lot of them don’t quite know who this man is with the low profile.

Which is quite OK with Westin, who long ago adopted a mantra that fits him nicely. Be there, see it, hang in there till it ends.

Then write the lead, of course.


I have a passion for playing golf that is surpassed only by my passion for writing about people who have a passion for playing golf, for working in golf, for living their lives around golf. Chasing the best professional golfers around the world for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and the PGA Tour for more than 20 years was a blessing for which I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve been left with precious memories of golf at its very best, but here is a takeaway that rates even more valuable – the game belongs to everyone who loves it. “Power Fades” is a weekly tribute with that in mind, a digital production to celebrate a game that many of us embrace. If you share a passion for golf, sign up down below for a free subscription and join the ride. Should you have suggestions, thoughts, critiques, or general comments, pass them along. And to help support “Power Fades” with contributing sponsorships or advertisements, you can contact me. Jim@powerfades.com

1 – The man can’t help himself

It’s been well-documented that Greg Norman attended the Masters as a patron. Not reported is the fact he had to pay for two patron badges – one for him, one for his overinflated ego.

2 – A gentler bend

A fade that morphs into a slice does so with a calmer disposition than a draw that becomes a hook.

3 – Numbers are growing

The U.S. Census Bureau reports a dramatic increase in the Gnome population since April 6.

4 – Some history

But remember this about the Gnomes – they are distant relatives to the Hummel population of the ‘50s and ‘60s and to the Pet Rock citizenry of the ‘70s and ‘80s. How did things work out for those little creatures?

5 – Five-letter word

The daily Wordle game presented us SHANK as its mystery answer Tuesday. So apparently obscenities are allowed in this game.

6 – Bring your appetites

So if the Basque fare wasn’t to your taste at this year’s Champions Dinner at the Masters, have no fear. Another Scottie Scheffler Texas barbeque is in the works for next April.

7 – Augusta pain is more intense

There are missed cuts, then there are missed cuts at the Masters. The two are not related.

8 – Tough navigation, this one

Last Augusta mention: No. 14 green is my favorite.

9 – Four straight and counting

So now that the Masters is over, let’s turn our major golf attention to Nelly Korda. She deserves it.


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