“Hey Kurt, I hear you have tickets to the Masters on Wednesday.”
“Indeed I do,” I exclaimed. ”I’ve been waiting for this for over 20 years and it is finally happening.”
“Have you seen the weather for Wednesday? It’s going to be terrible. Tuesday is going to be ideal weather and I have access to an extra ticket. Do you want to go?”
My response was pretty obvious; I decided that I was going to go Tuesday and Wednesday in my first year. What I didn’t know about was the icing on the cake that would greet me when I arrived in Augusta on Monday night. There lied four Berckman’s Place badges and two BP parking passes. How did I get so lucky that Berckman’s would be my first Masters experience? Where am I going to go from here? I guess I’m hoping for clubhouse badges next year with a visit to Butler’s cabin during the green jacket presentation. I think Jim Nantz is working on getting me in.
Leading up to this moment I had been thinking about ice cold, domestic light beer, pimento cheese sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, double packs of mini moon pies, and did I mention the domestic light beer? I mean, it comes with a souvenir cup; how many did you collect?
Instead my trip started with a VIP entrance at 7:30a (before the regular gates open) to enjoy a delicious buffet that was constantly attended to by multiple chefs, cooks, and food runners. Not one item in the spread was sitting there getting cold or over cooking. It was truly a first class experience.
I was lucky enough on my first visit to go with a Masters veteran. My host had attended countless times and knew the ins and outs of where to go and how to get me the most out of my first and one (sunny) day at Augusta.
We started the day on 5, watching Phil and Rory come through. Headed backwards 4, 3, 2, and 1 where we admired the giant leaderboard, the clubhouse, and amazing shades of green that Augusta provides. If you think that pictures you’ve seen have doctored the color of Augusta or that CBS is running some amazing filter on their cameras, you’re dead wrong. The grounds crew at Augusta is renowned, and makes sure that your experience at the Masters looks just like it does on TV.
While hanging out around the first tee, we spotted Vijay standing alone. Wondering what he was waiting on, we slid as close to the ropes as possible in order to see what I deemed “The Foursome of the Day”. Shortly after joining the gallery here comes the rest of Vijay’s group: Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, and Freddy Couples. They joked with the crowd and each other and let us all in on their bet: Vijay and Freddy vs Furyk and Stricker. One fan shouted, “the old guys versus the young guys!” All four players got a kick out of that.
You can’t go to the Masters without getting the obligatory picture at the end of Magnolia Row, in front of the famous clubhouse. I needed proof that I was there in case Nantz doesn’t come through in 2018.
Augusta has made this easier for everyone now with 3 photographers snap pictures of fans in a very efficient manner (just like everything else in this well-oiled machine).
We strolled the back nine and pausing at one of my bucket list items: the famous, par-3, center of Amen Corner hole 12. I was in awe and it was everything I hoped it could be. Our journey took us through the rest of the back nine and back to Berkman’s Place for a late lunch (with a stop at every concession stand I could find; I needed my souvenir cups). BP’s lunch was as amazing as breakfast and a nice opportunity to cool off in the AC and refuel for the afternoon. The fish and chips in the pub were excellent.
I spent the afternoon at my new favorite practice day hole: the 170 yard, par-3, over water number 16. Watching the players fly that water, with pinpoint accuracy, on a green that forgives no one was quite a site to see. But the real crowd pleaser is when the groups approach the water hazard, skipping balls from the down slope and frequently putting the ball closer to the pin than their tee shot. This hole garnered my attention for hours.
The day ended with a walk through 17 and 18 and return trip through the front 9 to BP’s for a couple Hendrick’s and tonics, a snack, and a test of skill on the simulated putting courses. Yes, it’s harder than it looks.
Getting married, having a baby (with another on the way), and obtaining my MBA are the few things I can think of that are better than your first day at ANGC, in 80 degree weather, with a Berkman’s Place badge around your neck.
And visit the golf shop behind 16 . . . we won’t talk about how much I spent.
Congratulations Sergio. See you all in 51 weeks.
Submitted by RCS Contributor KME. Great dude.
Photos: Scott Lewis Photography, who was with Kurt on Tuesday.