My Quest to Check Off Golf's Best Experiences
The Golf Bucket List
#17, "Nandina," Par 4, 440 Yards
#18, "Holly," Par 4, 465 Yards
#14, "Chinese Fir," Par 4, 440 Yards
#15, "Firethorn," Par 5, 530 Yards
#11, "White Dogwood," Par 4, 505 Yards
The site of Bubba's shot
#9, "Carolina Cherry," Par 4, 460 Yards
#10, "Camellia," Par 4, 495 Yards
Standing behind the 7th, you get a three hole vista of the 7th, 3rd, and 2nd holes. So cool.
#7, "Pampas," Par 4, 450 Yards
#5, "Magnolia," Par 4, 455 Yards
#6, "Juniper," Par 3, 180 Yards
#3, "Flowering Peach," Par 4, 350 Yards
#4, "Flowering Crab Apple," Par 3, 240 Yards
#2, "Pink Dogwood," Par 5, 575 Yards
#1, "Tea Olive," Par 4, 445 Yards
I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Masters practice round on the Tuesday before the 2014 Tournament. So, technically, I didn't attend the official Masters Tournament, but walking the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club on any day is a special experience, and doing so for a Masters practice day, is an experience unlike any I had ever had. From the moment you walk through the gates, you know you're in for an amazing day. Seemingly every worker you'll see on the grounds will greet you with a smile and a "Good Morning--Welcome to The Masters." Notre Dame Stadium is the sports venue that comes closest to this treatment of visitors, but if Notre Dame gets a 10 out of 10 for treatment of their guests, The Masters gets a 200 out of 10.
No square inch of the property is short of attention. Everyone's been told that there isn't a weed to be found, and that's basically true, but it's not just in the areas that the cameras see, but everywhere you'll step on the grounds. Then there's the rest of the patron's experience on the grounds. The restrooms would fit in just fine in your average sit-down restaurant. The concessions are set up cafeteria style so that you walk through a line of food and drink and pay at the end...and I never waited more than about 10 seconds to pay. All of these structures are permanent construction. That is, there are no "tents" at The Masters.
Then of course there's the golf course. Everyone tells you how it's so much hillier in person that you can see on TV. Of course, that's true, but it was the undulations of the greens that blew me away more than the movement in the land from green to tee. Sure, #10 goes way down hill, but the greens at #5, #6, and #14 made my jaw drop as far as how crazy some of the slopes on the greens were. As a lousy putter, I would find these terrifying!
Going on a practice day, I was fortunate to be able to bring my camera with me. 260+ shutter clicks later, I captured the experience as best I could in two-dimensions. I'm not going to bother doing a hole-by-hole description of each hole, but I'll show pictures for those who would like to see an amateur's experience from the perspective of the patrons.
Gotta have your Pimento Cheese Sandwich to make it a true Masters experience. Why can't food prices be like this at every sports venue? These those Masters flags on the tables--they don't miss a single detail here.
Other sites around the grounds and things the CBS cameras will never show.
#16, "Redbud," Par 3, 170 Yards
#12, "Golden Bell," Par 3, 155 Yards
#13, "Azalea," Par 5, 510 Yards
#8, "Yellow Jasmine," Par 5, 570 Yards