The Masters: On site at Augusta National
When someone asks you if you?re a god, you say yes.
And when someone offers you tickets to The Masters, guess what, you say yes.
That?s what I said to my friend who called late Tuesday night offering me tickets to Wednesday?s practice round. Yes, it was late notice. Yes, it involved some schedule-shifting. And yes, the 8-hour-drive was more than worth it.
I?ve been to majors before, but this was my first visit to Augusta National. It was quite eye-opening.
Walking around the course I witnessed 50-year-old men standing in line for autographs like a bunch of kids. I stopped counting the number of otherwise dignified middle-aged men I saw digging through trash cans to get their hands on bonus souvenir cups, giggling like girls. It was bizarre.
Why? What is it about The Masters that turns everyone into babbling freaks? You walk through the gates and suddenly you?re breathing a form of rarified air that somehow removes all reason.
My ticket was for one day only, unfortunately. I?ll be watching the final round on Sunday at home on the couch like everyone else. But to be perfectly honest, if I had to choose between a weekend ticket or a practice round ticket, I?d choose the practice round. Players are more relaxed, you can talk to them if they?re amiable enough. You can bring your camera and snap away.
You can get the inside scoop, as one man did as he watched Stuart Appleby putting and asked him how the greens were running. ?Slow,? was Appleby?s response. ?They?re much slower now than they will be tomorrow.? And sure enough, at day?s end, out came the a mile-long mower convoy, ready to battle those greens into stimpmeter submission.
Even with the relaxed atmosphere of practice round days, some fans still push their luck. ?Can we get a picture with you, Vijay?? begged a fan next to me. ?Just take it now,? replied the beleaguered Fijian. ?No! With you!? In response, Vijay turned and walked away.
There?s nothing like The Masters. You might be part of a crowd of thousands, but you feel like an invited guest. The US Open is all about openness to the public. The Masters, in contrast, is a brief glimpse into exclusivity. Green-jacketed members roll by in carts. PGA Tour megastars sit in lawn chairs and enjoy a sandwich with their families, ten feet away. You?re not in a grandstand, you?re in the back yard. It is, as Jim Nantz loves to repeat, ?a tradition unlike any other.?
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how green and crisp everything was. I
know that the caddies down there get
one play day per year, and all of them
try to get in at least 45 holes before
they're kicked off the course. People
drive from 3-4 hours away just to do it.
But can you blame them?
And you must've been excited to see
Goosen staring down the leaderboard on
Sunday this year. Talk about a cool
customer. But no worries. He'll win
that tournament soon enough I'm sure.