Playing Augusta National

So how about The Masters?  Adam Scott’s playoff win was one for the ages.  Congrats to the Aussie on his first major.  With a swing like that, it’s hard to believe he won’t have a few more.  Speaking of the Masters, my good friend TJ from Onward Reserve had the rare opportunity to play at the famed Augusta National.  What a treat…I thought y’all would like to read about it:

This morning I turned on my television and ESPN was promoting their coverage of the first rounds of the MASTERS.  For the next 30 seconds, while watching the promotion, I felt like a kid again.  I am not sure if it is the first true sign of spring, the motivation to get my own golf game in order, or just the respect for the game and course that does it for me.  However, when they pan across those meticulous fairways towards the exploding azaleas under shadows of colossal Georgia pines, it is nothing short of magical for me.  There are so many memories that surround the Masters for me and for anyone with any connection to the world of golf.  The most magical of all my memories is now my first trip to play Augusta National.

Growing up in Georgia, Masters week was always a big deal.  I remember dreaming that one day I would be able to attend the Masters.  In college, that dream came true and I was nothing short of giddy.  I became an instant expert on Bobby Jones and on everything Augusta National.  I was obsessed.  My dream had come true…or so I thought.

Bubba Watson was asked last year if winning the 2012 Masters was like he imagined it in his dreams.  He replied “I never got that far in my dreams.”    That is exactly how I felt driving my old Tahoe down Magnolia Lane towards the Clubhouse.  I couldn’t help but laugh to myself.   The feeling that overcame me was true, pure happiness.

We checked into our cabin along #10 fairway and I stood on the back porch imagining all the people that I was used to seeing around #18 green during tournament play.  It was surreal to have the place seemingly all to myself.  I was about to play Augusta National…twice!

The highlight of my experience was that I got to play Augusta or “the National” for the first time with my brother and my dad and that our host was one of my dad’s dearest friends from college.  Aside from our host, none of us had ever played the course and it was amazing to share that experience with my family.  We hit balls on the range and then headed out to #1.  Everyone hit decent drives and then I stuck my approach to 3 feet to tap in for Birdie.  I won’t say much more about my score that day other than I did break 100 and that I had a couple of more pars.   My score was the least of my concerns.

After our first round on the big course, we got to play the famous Par 3 course.  What a blast!  I will note that I also birdied #1 on the Par 3 course.  However, I will not divulge any further scorecard information on that round either.

Anytime you have the opportunity to play a well-known golf course, it is fantastic.  Half of the experience is seeing and playing the course and the remaining half is being able to dive into the culture of the club and its membership.  You learn so much by hanging around a clubhouse for a couple of days listening to stories and enjoying the hospitality.  From the top of the crows nest to the bottom of the wine cellar – there is no lack of subject matter at Augusta.  The full set of clubs used by Bobby Jones to win the Grand Slam is hanging in the dining room and near the Champions Locker Room there is a ballot box that was given to Augusta National by The Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews.  On an old shelf in the wine cellar you will see General Eisenhower’s name in pencil staking his claim on the spot.  There are Masters Tournament programs and badges from the past as well as clubs used by some of the most famous golfers in the world – past and present. It is heaven for anyone who enjoys golf or history.

When I asked our host what it was like to be a member he replied “you don’t ask many questions, you just sort-of enjoy the ride.”  That is what I decided to do with the rest of my trip.  I proceeded to take 1 million pictures and try to soak up every story I could.  I pinched myself regularly to make sure it was real life.

The people at Augusta could not be any more delightful.  From the gatekeeper on Washington Road to the caddies on the course, everyone was so welcoming and fun.  The pro shop, dining room, kitchen, bar and locker room staff all truly seemed happy to be there and to be a part of it all.  Although, how could you not?  The food was fantastic and the wine was even better.  The members were all so cordial and respectful of the club, the other members, and their guests.  When I left I felt like my caddie was an old friend.

The ‘Caddie Kickstand”

I should note that the attitude and ambiance of Augusta National and its membership exude mainly one thing:  an immense respect and love for the game of golf.  Augusta does more for the game of golf globally than I ever realized.  They are constantly improving their course, their facilities and their people.  They believe that things can always be better.

It was interesting to be at the National only a few months after they admitted their first female members.  I think it is fantastic that they allowed female members and even more fantastic that they did so on their own terms rather than caving to the intense media pressure of year’s past.  I also think it is noteworthy that the focus and the first priority of the Club has and always will be on the game of golf.

For more pictures, head over to The Gazette.

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4 Comments

  1. 04/15/2013 / 9:22 AM

    Now that is a great story…love reading that kind of stuff.

  2. Clay
    04/16/2013 / 11:17 AM

    That story is AWESOME. I just got back from a practice round this week – my first trip to Augusta. It was everything you would expect and more. The level of detail goes all the way down to the perfect amount of pimento cheese on the sandwich. Nothing is left to chance.

    What a great tournament this year as well! Sunday was one of the best displays of sport I’ve ever seen on TV in less than ideal conditions (rain). Cabrera’s sportsmanship and the shot making in the playoff fit the venue perfectly.

  3. 04/17/2013 / 10:26 AM

    Great story. It’s on my bucket list just to go to the Masters, I cant imagine playing the course. Would be a dream come true. When people ask me what course I could play if I could play any course, before they even finish their question, I say Augusta.

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