“It doesn’t even seem real!”

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My youngest son Jeremy and I in front of the signature leader board.

It has long been said by anyone who has ever stepped on the grounds of Augusta that it is the greatest tournament there is. In an interview I watched last night, Phil Mickelson who has won The Masters three times said it is the tournament that motivates all of the hard work the rest of the year, it’s what gets you up at 5:30 am to go to the gym, it’s what you look forward to all year long. So say the golf professionals and few amateurs who are good enough to be able to play in The Masters and doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands patrons who have attended over the years and would say the same thing. They don’t call them spectators at Augusta, not allowed. Yesterday my son Jeremy and I joined them. The Masters has always been my favorite golf tournament of the year and yesterday took my appreciation of the tournament to another level.

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The famous 13th hole “Azalea” the third hole of what is referred to as “Amen Corner”, holes 11 thru 13. Honestly, we actually took this picture…not photoshopped.

Words cannot even begin to express the beauty, the history, the drama, the hospitality, the tradition and to some extent the mystique of Augusta. My son said, “It doesn’t even seem real.” Truly it is unlike any sports event on earth. Next to the Superbowl (which is #1) The Masters is the hardest sports event to get tickets for. However, once you are on the property, they treat patrons like royalty. There is no question that they raise the term “southern hospitality” to the highest degree.

If you think that there are no honest and considerate people in the world anymore, you will find thousands of them during Masters week. In one article I read the author said:

“If you stake out your spot on the 18th green early enough and walk away, you’ll still have your spot when the pros reach the final par four (hours later). People are very respectful at the Masters. If you get there at 5 a.m. on Sunday and wait in line, then run to your favorite spot and set your chair down, you can be gone the entire rest of the day and no one will claim your spot.”

“Surely that can’t be true!” I thought when I first heard of such a thing, but yesterday we experienced it first hand. And not only can you leave your chair there, but go ahead and throw any souvenirs you bought underneath the chair. No worries…they were still there when we got back…along with a note saying, “Here is $100, enjoy your day at Augusta” (just kidding about the $100).

In a day and age when professional sports takes every opportunity to make a buck, to include taking advantage of the spectators without whom they wouldn’t exist in the first place, Augusta refuses to bend their knee. There is only one logo you will see “The Masters”. They aren’t interested in corporate sponsors and business deals that will make them a little more money. In a book I read, “Augusta: A Revealing Look Inside America’s Most Intriguing Golf Club”, it said the powers at be at Augusta would rather shut the tournament down before they ever catered to anyone who insisted they needed their money to make the tournament happen.

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What other venue could you get an egg salad sandwich, bag of chips, soft drink, and Georgia peach ice cream sandwich, hand them a $10.00 bill and get $4.00 back. That doesn’t include that smile and thank you get for coming to The Masters…that is free and awaits you everywhere you turn.

Perhaps one of the nicest things about the day yesterday was the “no cell phones” policy…and they mean it. I cannot tell you how nice it was to not succumb to the temptation to post on Twitter or Instagram or have your day interrupted by a bunch of people who are talking on their cell phones, including me. What a nice break to just enjoy the day…with about 45,000 other people.

With no tickets in hand for any of the tournament days, we are heading back to Augusta (we’re staying in Columbia, SC about an hour and fifteen minutes away) to see if we can get tickets for the tournament days (yesterday was for the practice round). We’ll let you know how that goes.

Postscript: I wrote this post on our way to buy tickets and am pleased to say that we were successful in getting tickets for Saturday’s round. Unfortunately while doing so, we experienced “the dark side of buying Master’s tickets.” No worries, we got our tickets legally. More on that next time.

Tuesday Practice Round Slideshow

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