I recently had the great fortune of experiencing the 2017 Masters for a couple of days.
After having been in 2008, I was anxious to revisit golf’s great cathedral. Once again, Augusta National did not disappoint.
My visit this year was upgraded a bit by my close friend, Rich Beem. Rich invited my friend and me to stay with him at his rental house just down the road from Augusta National.
We were only a 5-minute walk to the gates of the club, but that didn’t matter come Monday morning of Masters Week.
That morning, we flipped the top down in Rich’s convertible and entered the grounds with a drive down Magnolia Lane.
The drive down Magnolia Lane is just one of the perks that come from winning the 2002 PGA Championship. It was a truly awesome moment, and one that I will cherish forever.
Shortly after, we were given a private tour of the Members Clubhouse to view the original Masters trophy, before enjoying a view of the course from the private balcony upstairs. I recalled seeing Arnold Palmer standing in the same spot in 2008.
Quite a moment indeed.
As great as these moments were, it was time to focus on the golf course and the players. What stands out most about seeing Augusta National in person is the contour of the fairways and greens.
I’m not sure if there is a flat spot on the entire course.
Most notably, hole #10 is straight downhill, while hole #18 is straight uphill. Walking the golf course is tiring, especially as you are rushing around to make sure you don’t miss a single moment during your brief time visiting.
However, the $1.50 Pimento Cheese sandwiches are a great way to refuel throughout the day. I will most likely never have another one of those sandwiches again, until my next visit to the Masters.
It’s just something you must experience while you are there.
Besides the sandwiches, the other experience you must take in is viewing the player’s attempting to skip golf balls across the pond on hole #16. Every player we watched attempted this shot, and the best shot of the day was hit by the caddy for Ross Fisher.
He skipped the ball across the pond and stopped his ball within 2 feet of the hole. The roar was tremendous, and he clearly enjoyed his moment by running a lap around the tee box with his hands raised in the air.
As our trip was concluding late Tuesday afternoon, we made one last trip past the 9th green in route to the 12th tee. Passing the ninth, we paused for a moment to watch Sergio Garcia finishing up on the green.
He was accompanied only by his caddy, and I enjoyed watching him sign 4 golf balls to hand to some juniors that were nearby. He was friendly with the patrons, and seemed to be embracing the moment.
Little did he know what was in store for him on Sunday afternoon.
We reached the 12th tee shortly before sunset. As the mowers were working their way towards the 11th green, we noticed one more player and his caddy teeing off on #12.
It was Justin Rose.
There were only a handful of us watching at this point, and I remember thinking what a cool moment for him and his caddy to be playing Amen Corner in such solitude.
As the Masters concluded in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon, I had great memories of my trip to the tournament.
It seems fitting that the last two players I saw during my visit were Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.