I am watching the Masters Golf Tournament on TV right now. The excitement (fans) seems to be missing. This tournament needs Tiger and Bryson battling through Amen Corner on the back nine on Sunday. But here are some recollections of that fine day back in 2004, when I went. These are my photos!
From 2004: I went to the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National a few years ago. Augusta appeared to me as an old white ghetto, sort of backwards, and simple, with lots of old buildings, faded neon signs, and the typical food chains lining the business district. Camped in the middle of this simplicity and country style living, is the magnificent Augusta National Golf Course. Among its members are Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Boone Pickens, and Jack Welch. Since 1934, they have hosted The Masters Golf Tournament.
But as I got off the freeway, and followed the signs, I passed this urban blight of a city. Card tables were set up in front of every business, offering either tickets or parking for a fee. I parked my rental car in the dusty parking lot adjacent to lots of tall trees. I could see the motor homes of Davis Love and John Daly in the distance. I had an extra ticket. Sure enough, a guy was asking for extras, and offered to pay a premium. I only asked face value, much to his surprise and glee.
I was a little early and started to stand in line with the other fans. Most were wearing their golf shoes, carried large umbrellas, and huge summer straw hats of all colors and hues. The crowd looked very urban, middle class, in other words, people with money to spend. Myself included, we could not wait to get into the grounds, and buy our Masters souvenirs.
As we entered the famous golf course, we were searched for weapons and knives, as well as cell phones. NO phones allowed!!! The regulars raced to their favorite locations, while us newbies wandered the merchandise tents. It was a madhouse, the fire marshals’ worst nightmare. Somehow, I found the only golf shirt on the entire property under $50. It must have been mismarked or a leftover from last year.
I wandered the practice area, only to see a lone golfer, Bernhard Langer, out practicing. I strolled over to the famous Magnolia Lane where the members and players would arrive. The buildings including the clubhouse are small, simple, but immaculate. Walking back toward the course, I found the famous Butler Cabin, where the winner is given his green jacket. Again, it was very small, unimpressive, but neatly manicured.
I glanced up at the Crow’s Nest, where the rookies are housed, right on the property. Usually the U.S. Amateur champion and the other amateurs (up to 5) are housed here. Tiger stayed here in his first Masters, after he won the U.S. Amateur. Now, most of the established players rent a large home nearby, since they bring family and wannabees to the tournament.
Walking over to the first tee, a long par 4, looked like the longest par 4 I have ever seen. Most guys were landing their drives in the two large bunkers on the right. That means an almost automatic bogey, and a poor start. Leaving it short of the bunkers with a 3 wood means a long iron shot to the green.