Standing near the first tee of Augusta National two weeks ago, I surveyed the vista and thought, "This is one of the most beautiful golf courses run ...

"By rich people with a history of racism and an overt policy of sexism.''

That's the problem with golf. For the most part, the best courses are the most exclusive, once segregating their members by race or gender, and now simply by class. I've been privileged to play such great courses as Augusta National, Hazeltine and Interlachen, and I always feel like I should be using the servant's entrance instead of the front gate.

At this year's Masters, my friends and I in the press room thought it was a sign of progress that some of the people emptying the trash were white males.

I've been playing golf on and off for 10 years now, and the anniversary of my sorry attempt to master the world's most difficult game has, at least, given me reason to reflect on what I want to get out of my bouts of futile hacking.

And my wish list no longer includes playing the world's greatest courses, places where one guy wants to carry your clubs from your trunk to the curb, and another wants to carry them to the cart, and another wants to brush off your irons when you come off the 18th green.

With the golf season due to begin here any month now, here's what I want from golf this year:

• A hexagonal driver. If pear-shaped is good and square is better, give me the hexagon.

• More walking. Carts are for the infirm and the lazy. The game would be better if everyone walked. Golf courses want you to use carts only because they're big money-makers.

• More rounds at the best inexpensive courses in the state. My game isn't worth big money, and my swing shouldn't be allowed to remove large chunks of fairway from Minnesota's better courses. Give me Willingers, the reasonably priced gem in Northfield, or a well-run muni.

• Less time looking at condos. One advantage of Willingers, and the best courses up north, is there is no housing on the course. If I leave my house to play in the great outdoors, I don't want to be able to tell what the Smiths are having for lunch.

• Solid contact. I'd rather hit the ball flush and shoot 90 than scramble in the short game and shoot 88.

• One swing trainer that actually works. I've spent too many of my formative golf years wearing so many devices I look like Kevin Costner in his trailer preparing for the U.S. Open in "Tin Cup," and neither Cheech Marin nor Rene Russo is around to talk me down from the ledge.

• A lot of refunds. If I could take all the money I've spent on ill-devised swing trainers, I could pay Tiger Woods to play for me.

• Two Tiger majors. The best reason to watch golf remains Mr. Woods' competitive spirit.

• Two Tiger major losses: We've already seen him struggle down the stretch at Augusta. If he can't win, it's always rewarding for us hackers to watch him search for his swing.

• More Phil. Mickelson was not a factor at the Masters, and the tournament was the lesser for it. He's such a wonderful contrast to Woods -- and has so many subtle similarities -- that seeing the two contend for majors would make golf much more interesting.

• More birdies in majors. Augusta National made its once-wonderful course play like a U.S. Open venue, begging the question: Who needs the U.S. Open? To the powers that be: Birdies are good, and eagles are better. Golf should encourage risk-reward decisions, not risk-risk-curse decisions.

• More Boo Weekley. He's John Daly with a straight driver and no known felonies, and he didn't cut his teeth on the Wake Forest golf team. The guy went to Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and here's hoping he accidentally spits a little tobacco juice on Davis Love's wingtips.

All of golf could do with a little more Boo, and fewer guys with roman numerals after their names.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. •