See a game in Yankee Stadium. Go to
Lambeau Field. Experience a night game in Tiger Stadium (wink, wink). Go to the
True sports fans should do all of those things. However, every sports fan isn't necessarily a golf fan. Obviously, your everyday run of the mill NASCAR fan wouldn't necessarily appreciate a PGA golf tournament, whether you watch it on television or in person.
But whether you are a golfer or
not, there is something different about Augusta National Golf Club. Sure, there
are plenty of people who think golf is a bunch of old fat guys in plaid pants,
but then there is
Not a fan of the game? No worries. Everyone should see Augusta National in their lifetime.
From home plate in the House that Ruth Built all the way to the goal line in the south end zone of Tiger Stadium, nothing – and I mean nothing – compares to the serenity of Amen Corner at Augusta National.
A fan of the game and an avid golfer, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to have the opportunity to step onto the hallowed ground that is Augusta National Golf Club. There is no other patch of real estate like it anywhere else in the world.
Last week I got the opportunity.
In 2001, I attended the U.S. Open
at Southern Hills Country Club in
I made up my mind that I would
journey to the small east Georgian town of
Who could I share this experience with?
The wife is the first person that
came to mind, but that is something Beth and I can share for years to come on
return trips. Rather, the Master's was the perfect opportunity for some bonding
with my brother-in-law, Stewart. Since he lives in
Since he is a golfer, there was no better chance for quality time with the bro-in-law.
With my brother in law Stewart Bonner in front of Augusta National's famous clubhouse.
To top it off, it gave me an
opportunity to reunite with a very special person from my past. When I was a wee
Stewart and I met up in
I could not have asked for a better trip overall filled with family, old friends, plenty of golf and the Master's.
Upon arrival, the town of
We went without tickets hoping to purchase passes on the street for Tuesday's practice round. I would have liked to have seen an actual tournament round, but at $150 a pop for practice round tickets, just being there and seeing the course and the players was good enough. Heaven knows what the weekend rounds could cost? (Stubhub.com had four day passes for one person listing at $2800. YIKES!!)
The advantage of the practice round was that you were allowed to bring in cameras, which are strictly forbidden at any PGA Tour event. Pictures of the course, plus souvenirs from the gift shop, were pretty much my focus for the day anyway. Take it from someone who has been to many PGA Tour events, if you want to watch a golf tournament, stay home and catch it on the tube. You'll see a lot more actual golf.
Plus, the format was a bit more
laid back. Players were much looser. They could be seen joking around with the
other players in their groups and interacting with
One of the downers of the day was
the fact that most of golf's "big guns" teed off early Tuesday morning. We
However, we did have the privilege
of following 50-year Master's veteran Gary Player through
We did get a chance to see eventual and most improbable Master's champion Zach Johnson, as well as other notables such as Jose Maria Olazabal, Seve Ballesteros, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Stuart Appleby, Justin Rose and many more.
One of the people I did set out to see was LSU alum David Toms, who we caught up with two groups behind Player down in Amen Corner.
Toms enjoyed one of his best Master's finishes ever in sole possession of ninth place. Tiger Rag will have a full report on Toms from this weekend's upcoming Zurich Classic of New Orleans and its return to the TPC of Louisiana.
For those of you who haven't had
the opportunity to see
Stewart had said he wanted to walk
the entire course to see it. Let's just say we nixed that idea pretty fast. To
One word of advice, though. When leaving Augusta National, be wary of the gift shop. Either avoid it all together or take in a specific amount of money and leave the credit cards in the car. It was expen$ive, to say the least.
I do not gamble at all, on sports, at the casino or even in the occasional card game. But by the time I got out of the Augusta National Gift Shop, someone needed to direct me to some sort of toll-free hotline with a counselor on the other end.
At any rate, the trip was a success
and one that I will cherish forever. I can't say the same for the players, who
suffered through brutally cold temperatures and playing conditions unseen before
Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.