It’s tough to avoid Augusta National, especially when you are here every year working the event. A lot of the people that work with me in this industry camp out at our hospitality clubs, shuttle people back and forth between hotels, and distribute Masters Tickets to all our customers, working tirelessly throughout the whole week. We stuff ourselves on the endless buffets starting on Monday. By Thursday we are looking for looser fitting pants. By Sunday we can’t even look at the dessert tray, except maybe for one last key lime mousse. Yes, I’m working in Augusta during The Masters. But some of us, make that almost of all of us, haven’t seen the course in years. Augusta National is just down the street. We can sometimes hear the cheers from the galleries. Our customers return from the course sunburned and smiling, telling us about how Rory was swinging or how Phil looked on 7. Sure, the neighbors back home are jealous of us. We are lucky to be here. It’s exciting being in this small city during such a prestigious event. But….
The CBS coverage on the dozens of flat screen TV’s around the 1018 Club are slowly sucking me in to a trance. My work for the day is done. Today’s clients picked up from the airport – check. Private homes inspected – check. Guests transferred to the course – check. Finally, I can’t take it anymore and I start looking to bum a badge from anyone looking too tired to return to the course in the afternoon. I have to get out there and smell some magnolias and azaleas and see Amen Corner for myself. I start looking over the folks coming back from the course. Who’s walking slow, who’s looking burned, who’s enjoying the open bar maybe just enough to want to stay there for the rest of the afternoon? My longtime customer says to me “I’m done for the day, go enjoy”. He hands me his Masters badge and I’m off!
I race down Azalea Drive to Washington Road. Damn it, I hate that they changed this entrance to Gate 6! I motor down Washington Road, hang a left on Berckman Road and I’m in. I see the gift shop. Do I need another visor? Oooo, those polos this year are pretty...no! I can’t waste the daylight. I power past. I need a score sheet and a look at the leader board.
Ok, I have a thing for Phil Mickelson. He’s just cool. Now the true race begins. I have to find Phil! He teed off over an hour and half ago. Now the math and mapping begins. I can see he’s on 5, but by the time I weave my way to 6, he might be on 7, and he walks very fast. I check the Augusta National course map. I plan my route. I weave around the course. I get stuck in a foot-traffic jam caused by who’s left of the Tiger Woods gawkers. I hear some woman say “MISS” as his ball heads towards the pin. He misses. She high-fives another lady. I keep on speed walking.
The galleries are packed. I decide to make a clear dart towards 8 and wait. There he is! He putts in and I book it over to Amen Corner. I absolutely love it here. Nothing feels more ‘The Masters’ like this area of the course. I watch Phil play 11 and 12 from my spot somewhere beside the stands, on a slightly higher piece of ground, behind about 40 other people. Screw the shorter people behind me. I’m 6 foot and proud today! It’s hot, crowded, and I can barely see a thing, but it’s the Masters and it’s perfectly beautiful.
Mission accomplished. I made it out there. I saw Phil. I walked the course. Now I’ll head over to 15 and watch some of the other guys play and call it a day. Maybe just one more Key Lime Mousse at the 1018 Club and I’m good.