By Jim Fannin

Are you an expert? This is a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area. Are you an expert financial advisor? Are you an expert parent? Are you an expert writer, singer or guitar player? Are you an expert golfer or tennis player? As an expert, are you attracting the peak performance mindset of the “zone,” especially at the right time and place? An expert spends an inordinate amount of time, energy and sacrifice to reach this apex level of performance. Every year, approximately 90 to 100 professional and amateur golf experts play The Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga. They qualified because of this expertise; however, on tournament Sunday, only one will be called a Masters champion. A master is extraordinary. This person is unique. This is a rare artist, performer or player of consummate skill. This individual is more than expert at their craft. He or she can consistently put the “zone” on like an overcoat, as they showcase their expertise. Typically, a master is a person of the past whose work serves as a model or ideal.

A master has spent an inordinate amount of time and effort in honing his or her expertise. They excel at the basics of their passionate work, and fully understand all of the nuances that come with it. A window of mastery opened to this individual when experience, knowledge, skill and passion culminated at the same time. A relentless pursuit of excellence brought them to this place in time. Through a myriad of challenges, they remained true to the purity of their craft. These are the masters. Who is a master? Think of Jimi Hendrix as he magically stroked his guitar. He felt the music, and it exploded through his fingers to mesmerized audiences. The great guitarists that followed all dreamed of Jimi’s riffs. Think of painters Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso or Jackson Pollock. They permeate our visual senses with the delicate touch of their artist’s stroke. When I helped launch the famous South Beach artist Romero Britto, it was the master Picasso that he emulated. Emily Dickinson was a master of the English word. Her poetry stands the test of time, as it invokes feelings of our own mortality. She has been recognized as one of the world’s top 50 most influential women. Ansel Adams captured the beauty of the American West, with his amazing blackand-white photographs. One glance at his scenes of Yosemite National Park, and you immediately think his name. Generations of photographers have tried in vain to capture his magic. And remember Fred Astaire? How he graced the stage! He was a virtuoso dancer whose career spanned 78 years. He had technical control and an astonishing sense of rhythm. Rudolf Nureyev, Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson, Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov all felt his influence.

He made us all want to dance. These are experts that became masters. In the 2021 Masters Tournament, golf experts from around the globe gather to test their craft in the Georgia town of Augusta. One will be declared The Masters champion. Each contestant will leave Washington Road, and turn onto Magnolia Lane to the world’s greatest golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club. This memorable lane is 330 yards long, and is adorned by 61 beautiful magnolia trees. For 35 years, I’ve traveled up this picturesque driveway. I know it well. Through this entrance, the players will approach a 365-acre compound that encases the 18-hole course. This will be the player’s canvas, where they will attempt to paint a masterpiece. The victor will place a white ball into 18 cups with the least strokes. The 7,475- yard course is spectacular, with more than 80,000 plants of upwards of 350 varieties that adorn the Augusta National grounds. But don’t let the beauty fool you. Only a masterful performance on the treacherous and demanding course, in front of the most knowledgeable spectator base in the world, will wear the “Green Jacket” as the symbol of his mastery. Each could be considered experts of their craft—but are they truly a master?

Experts believe. Great experts expect. The master knows.

The Masters test is formidable. From the first hole, the course will be challenging. Over 90 percent of the golf experts that tee it up will choke and be out of contention when the final round on Sunday is underway. Who will be left to vie for the Green Jacket prize? Most golf pundits (Golf Digest, etc.) say Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau or Dustin Johnson will still be in the hunt Sunday afternoon. They include Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. This list is based on historic results—makes sense. Statistics—okay. However, the master has heart (not that the above players do not), and heart is difficult to measure. Outside of the favorites, look for dark horse performers Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Brian Gay (Zoniac), Patrick Cantlay and Tommy Fleetwood. I’m rooting for the dark horses to have a heartfelt, masterful week. ■

Tip du jour: Focus on what you do well. Deal from your strength. Continue to hone these prominent parts of your craft.