In a decade of devotion to golf, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has never presented a more complete package on the sport than readers will find in this issue. The occasion for such a display—some six elements running through almost 30 pages—is that spring is on the land and that great landmark of spring, the Masters championship, is at hand.

The man in charge of our golf department, Senior Editor Ray Cave, began planning this issue more than a year ago when the artist-satirist Marc Simont was selected to produce a new and different view of the Masters. The results on pages 40-44 may seem like sacrilege to those who tend to think of the Augusta tournament as something sacred. But to our golf editor, whose fondness for the Masters is hard to match, Simont's drawings also offered a new and different view of Ray Cave. "I have run through those woods many a time without guessing how unreal I must look to anybody who takes the time to stare at me. Nobody will stare, of course, because everybody will be running. It takes a Simont to see us."

What Cave saw most clearly last year was the strength and determination of Jack Nicklaus, and it is this aspect of the defending champion's game that is portrayed on this week's cover. Is this kind of power essential over the Augusta National course? Cave asked. Nicklaus testified that it is: the famed course gives the long hitters a surprising advantage, and they have been capitalizing on it. Nicklaus expanded on his thesis, talking most of it into a tape recorder during a 45-minute auto ride. "What Nicklaus said was so startling there was no trouble remembering it, even without the tape," says Cave. "I think his story, beginning on page 30, is the most meaningful Masters course assessment we have ever published."

Following Nicklaus comes an estimate of the eight golfers who stand the best chance to win at Augusta this time and why. Cave's Rule: "Don't bet on the golfer who is hot a month before the Masters; look for the man whose game is just getting hot." Cave's hand is also in the next story, Shoot for a Million, by the agent-lawyer who helps turn golfers into millionaires, Cleveland's Mark McCormack. "I've known Mark," says Cave, "since I was writing my first SI stories and he was signing his first contract in behalf of a promising new client, Arnold Palmer. On the lawn of the Augusta National clubhouse a year ago he threatened to write a story for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and I immediately threatened to reject it. But here it is—why the Masters Tournament is the most lucrative of all tournaments for the man who wins it, with facts and figures."

The golf package also includes Tony Lema's declaration that the Masters is fun to play in (for a competitor like Lema, anyway) and finishes with a how-to-survive-in-Augusta account by Associate Editor Dan Jenkins, who has survived 13 trips there. We trust that Augustans will catch the thread of affection that underlies Texas-born Dan Jenkins' jaundiced view of their city's old, old southern charm.