The 53rd masters tournament is the first to be covered for us by senior writer E.M. Swift, whose byline has graced stories on a variety of subjects, including baseball, hockey and the outdoors, since he joined SI in 1978. But as his reporting of this week's events at Augusta indicates (page 18), he's no stranger to the game of golf.

Ed has played and followed the game with characteristic enthusiasm for years, even though his arduous travel schedule has kept him from lowering his handicap of 12. "My real handicap is my father-in-law," he says. In 1982, while touring Scotland with his family, Swift played a round at Royal Troon with his wife's father, Charles Lee, a 10 handicap who had a dreadful case of the shanks that day. Swift has been battling the shanks ever since. "Golfers on the Tour turn away in horror when someone shanks a shot," he says. "They don't even like to talk about it for fear that they'll start doing it themselves."

Since he began covering the Tour for SI this year, Swift has watched a lot more swings, a sometimes painful chore for such a suggestible golfer. For our story on the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (SI, Jan. 23, 1989), he was exposed to the not-so-sweet shots of Tip O'Neill and Gerald Ford. At The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra, Fla., three weeks ago, the empathetic Swift winced as touring pro David Frost shanked a horrible shot from the fairway on the 7th hole. Mortified, Swift closed his eyes—and his notebook—and buried his head in his hands. "I didn't want to see it, I didn't want to hear it, I didn't even want to write about it," he says.

Despite such travails, Swift has some family golfing tradition to sustain him. While browsing through the USGA museum, next door to his father-in-law's house in Far Hills, N.J., Swift discovered that an aunt, Edith Cummings, had won the Women's Amateur Championship in 1923. His father, Edward F., who played to a 10 handicap, won a pro-am at Onwentsia Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill., in 1966. Another member of the winning foursome was the 15-year-old Ed Swift, who hacked up the course a bit that day. "But our pro was DeWitt Weaver, who was the longest hitter on the Tour at the time," says Swift. "He had a little more to do with our win than I did."

PHOTORONALD C. MODRASwift on the golf beat: shanks for the memories.