Going to the Masters – it’s every golf fan’s dream. Year after year, millions watch through their TV screens, wishing they were there. They’re longing to be one of those lucky individuals at hole 12, watching Phil checking the wind and deciding between a P and a 9 iron.
Imagine if you were there…
You’re in Augusta. You can tell because the pink azaleas are already in bloom. Somehow spring arrives earlier in Augusta and you feel like you’ve walked onto a movie set. You’re standing outside your hotel. It’s not exactly a 5-star property because those don’t exist in small town Georgia, but the parking lot is full of luxury cars and you can’t help but be amused at the paradox.
You can’t wait to get to Augusta National and hop onto a waiting shuttle with your best friend, who also keeps pinching himself to make sure it’s not a dream. The shuttle doors swallow you and you look up to see seats filled with others in caps and golf shirts, trying hard to act cool despite the urge to jump out of their seat and run the rest of the way to the course.
You finally arrive at the gates and walk on to hallowed ground. You’re oblivious to the other patrons milling around you as you try to soak it all in. The grounds are extraordinary. There is not a blade of grass out of place. You long to touch the fairway to make sure it’s actually real. It doesn’t seem possible for grass to be so perfectly manicured, so uniform in color.
You briefly debate whether to go grab a seat at the grandstand behind the 16th tee box or to walk the course. You choose the latter as you want to experience every inch of this piece of Eden. Speaking of biblical references, you start to hear a calling to walk to Amen Corner. Even though you’ve watched the Masters faithfully for years, you start to notice things that you just don’t get a sense of on TV. You’re surprised at the dramatic changes in elevation and you quickly develop a whole new appreciation for the course. The way you watch the tournament on TV will be forever changed.
At some point during the afternoon, the rumbling in your stomach tears you away from the golf. You grab a pimento cheese sandwich and a beer from one of the concessions and are shocked when you get change back from a five dollar bill.
You spend the day walking the legendary course and each hole seems to be even more thrilling than the last. You stand at the base of the hill on hole 6 and watch golf balls sail over your head and land on the green. You pinch yourself as you watch Tiger teeing off 108 feet above the the fairway bunker on number 10. You begin to understand the love/hate relationship players have with number 18.
Play ends all too soon but before you leave, there’s one more stop to make. You clutch a list in your hand, full of requests from friends back home, and step into the Pro Shop of all Pro Shops. You could spend a full day in here, but do finally manage to escape to the comfort of your shuttle.
Eager to keep the day from ending, you and your buddy find a place grab a bite to eat and a drink or two. Your conversation centers around golf. Your look around, every conversation in the place centers around golf. You sneak a quick glance at one of the televisions on the wall and see Jim Nantz and all that green. It’s your version of heaven.
After your meal, you walk across the street to back to your hotel, exchanging hellos with those you pass by. You feel at home here. You collapse on your inviting bed, completely content. For the first time ever, you cannot wait for the alarm to go off so you can do it all over again.