So it has taken almost a week to sit down and write this. Not sure if it was the fact that I have been glued to a TV most of last week or if I had an inherent fear of not being able to do this whole post justice. Without further ado, here goes nothing.
Last week I got to knock an item off my bucket list. I was able to attend The Masters. Now, I only went a practice day but nonetheless I got to walk the hallowed grounds of Augusta National Golf Club. Before I get any further, a serious thank you goes out to my buddy Chris, who made this happen.
Rather than a shotgun approach like I normally do, I am going to detail my day as it happened.
Wake Up Call: 5 A.M. – We stayed in Columbia, South Carolina, so had a little bit of a drive and wanted to soak up every single second there. We wanted to aim to be at Augusta around 7:30.
Drive – Surprisingly easy drive from Columbia to Augusta. No real traffic until we hit town. I have always read about Augusta and how the golf course and town do not go hand in hand. We did not spend a lot of time there, but from what I could tell the area surrounding the course seemed like every other middle to small town in America.
Arrival – We were within striking distance of the course a little after 7 A.M. It felt like when you get to the beach for the first time in the summer, you can feel that you are close; you can smell it, almost taste the salt water in the air (in Augusta, you can almost taste the pimento cheese sandwich). The feeling is a whole body feeling, you just sense that you are there. It is almost hard to describe…but as this moment…this is where my heart dropped, I got nervous. You build something up in your mind for years, and at this point I was a little nervous that it would be a let down…it wasn’t.
Traffic – Like I said, we hit traffic when we hit town. I think, like most people, we set the GPS to the North Entrance. Once we hit the traffic we did a quick maneuver to the South Entrance. Right away we thought we were headed in the wrong direction because traffic was eerily light. Call it fate, call it dumb luck, but we were able to zip right to the parking lot by the South Entrance and with what felt like a soft 7-iron walk, we were inside.
First impression – Everyone is so nice…from the parking attendants, to security, to the people welcoming you. It never felt like a forced nice, but a genuine welcome. Right away, you are taken back by the attention to detail. Azaleas welcome you at the South Entrance and lead you right on the path to Amen Corner.
Amen Corner – It was almost hard to contain myself. You know that feeling when you would wake up on Christmas as a kid and hit the top of the stairs wondering if there were presents downstairs from Santa? Well I have not felt that way since my parents let me in on the great Christmas secret. I can now say as a 30 year old man, I felt that feeling again and saw that expression of ear to ear grinning on many other people. TV does a fairly decent job showing how nice Amen Corner is. But…seeing it and experiencing it in person will be something I will never forget. Remembering the amazing shots over the years, watching guys dreams of putting on the green jacket become a reality and for some stay a dream…just to stand there and experience that in person…just wow.
First Surprise of the Day – As we were taking in Amen Corner, we were hanging out on 13, by the concession stand when we heard a huge cheer. I had read before we went in that Tiger was going to play with Freddie Couples and Phil, but was not clear if they were going off the first nine or second nice. To our surprise they went off the second nine. We were in prefect position to catch these guys as they hit their approach shot – and all of this before 10 A.M.
Pre Lunch – From there we decided to swim up stream and work our way back to nine since most of the crowd was following this monster group. Other than just the amazing atmosphere a couple things stood out right away. First, the quick elevation changes. There are very few flat spots on the course. Second, nothing seems out of place. Every single thing on the course has a purpose.
Lunch – Everyone knows about the cheap prices. The pimento cheese sandwich was very good and lived up to the hype, but don’t sleep on the club sandwich. I had a “couple” adult sodas (you don’t become Head Writer for Golf Starz and not be able to gas a couple beers), but the blue sports drink was prefect for a hot day and you still got to pocket a patron cup. What I loved about the concession stands was the ease to get in and out and no one judged you for buying lets say four sandwiches and some sides. For this price you are losing money not stocking up.
Post Lunch “Half Marathon” – After we were full and a little lubricated we decided to walk the whole course. Burn off the food we just sampled. We had seen a good portion of the course at the point, but honestly felt like the only way to take it all in was start at one and walk this bad boy. Now I can jump into each hole and what they mean to me or even rank them, but enough of our colleagues have done that. All in all, the course is long from a patron stand point. Through out the day we literally walked a half marathon. Here are some things that stood out to me:
- I am a dude who is always on his phone, ask my wife…she hates it. After a couple hours you forget you do not have it. It was unreal to unplug for a day and enjoy.
- In a world where everything has a sponsor, you do not see one corporate sponsor at Augusta. Hell, even the beer is called, Domestic, Imported, and American Craft.
- Everything is so pure, there is nothing out of place.
- The grounds crew is amazing. Watching guys blow sand off a green and move seamlessly to manicure this place was like watching a well conducted symphony.
- Again, the elevation changes are crazy. I was telling my buddy Chris that watching at home you may sit back and think why is he using a 3 wood, grip and rip buddy…well it all makes sense now. Ball control means giving yourself a difficult second shoot rather than an impossible second shot.
- People have a classic respect for the game here. I love the Waste Management Open but I also love a classic respect for the game where people are relatively quite and aren’t yelling “Get in the Hole.” Time and Place.
Merch – We waited until the end of the day to hit the Golf Shop. We did not have the opportunity to go to the new one, but have heard it is amazing. When we got to the shop, it felt like an episode of Super Market sweep. I had a list of stuff to buy for friends and family that would make Santa jealous. The prices on merch were great and they had everything you could want.
I would say my first trip was definitely a success. I could go on and on, but feel like this is a prefect place to end it. I know there is most likely so much I missed and no way I could ever do this place justice. So as we say good bye to another Masters week, for me it is hopefully not a good bye but a see you soon.
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