“I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don’t know when that day will be.” – Tiger Woods
As we approach this years Masters and Tiger’s recent resurgence, I thought a Tiger quote was fitting. For me, the Masters has always marked the beginning of a new golf season. It also reminds me of one of my favorite golf trips…
Most Masters fans already know this, but they have a lottery every year for a chance to buy both daily practice and regular round tickets. You can register for this option here. It’s very strict. You can only submit one email per mailing address. If your entry is chosen, you can buy up to 4 tickets for the pre-selected day you were automatically assigned.
I found out about this lottery in the summer of 2016 just in time to register for the 2017 Masters. As I would find out later, some people have tried for years and have not been selected. I was lucky and was selected for the Wednesday practice round my first year trying! My first thought was to ask my Dad. He was interested, but at 70 wasn’t sure about the travel and walking the course. My next thought was to ask the guys about making this part of our 2017 golf trip. It would add a few days to our trip, but this was the Masters. They were all in.
We had already covered North and South Carolina in our Charlotte 2015 trip. Looking at the map, Atlanta would work. We could get Georgia and Alabama checked off our list and it was just over a 2 hour drive to Augusta. It would be more driving than usual, but we really need to get 2 states a year to have a chance at golfing in all 50 states.
As we drove toward Augusta, we kept a close eye on the weather radar and it wasn’t looking good. A huge storm was headed that way. The only question was; how bad and how long? That didn’t keep the excitement building as we got closer and closer. Once we arrived, we made the long trek from the parking lot to the main entrance. If you have never been to the Masters, it feels like a golf theme park. A gigantic parking lot, over-sized entrance and a mass of people flooding in. They do not allow cell phones here and collect them at the entrance if you have one. The only way to take pictures is to bring an actual camera.
As you can imagine, the grounds were immaculate. Not a blade of grass out-of-place. The restrooms had attendants pointing you to open stalls! Lines to the gift shop were huge. The sky looked ominous, but this was awesome. We looked forward to walking the grounds, enjoying food and drinks with prices frozen since the 80’s, purchasing souvenirs and checking out the famous Par 3 tournament. Unfortunately, mother nature had other ideas.
We were in golf heaven, if even for a short time. We started walking the course. I’ve watched the Masters on TV for as long as I can remember. Seeing the course in person is the golf equivalent of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. UNBELIEVABLE. After making it around 3 holes, the horn sounded. They were evacuating the course.
We avoiding leaving for as long as we could, in hope that the weather would pass. Sadly, but eventually, we made the long walk back to the car. For over an hour, we sat in the car listening for updates. Finally, they re-opened.
Getting in the first time was pretty fast, but now everyone was trying to get back in at the same time. We easily stood in line for an hour. While we waited, we heard interesting stories about people paying $1500 for today’s practice, losing their tickets, even the story about the guy who created the famous pimento-cheese sandwich. I attempted to add to the entertainment by quizzing those around us with facts found in the Masters program.
Once we were back inside, we headed over to the practice range to watch some of the current and past greats warm up. Speith, Sergio, Watson, Couples and Els to name a few. It was fantastic. Then it wasn’t. About 20 minutes after getting back inside, they closed the course for the day. We never made it past the practice range. No gift shop. No cheap beer. No cheese sandwiches. No more walking the greatest grounds in golf. They have never had to cancel the Par 3 contest until this year. Our year.
Our trip was long. Our stay was short. All in all, it was totally worth it.
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