Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Monday at the Master's

(Photo taken by Patrick Markham, March 5, 2010)

Where else in the world do so many top stars of any game come together to compete in the same place, the same time of year, year after year? A small field of only about 90 golfers competes in the annual event known as the Master’s.

Two friends and I had the opportunity to attend Monday’s practice round of the Master’s at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. It was one of the greatest Monday’s of my life. The car ride up was a wrestles one. I could only imagine what I was about to experience; the history, the tradition, the unparalleled excellence of arguably the most prestigious golf course in the world. The moment we stepped on the grass of Augusta National I realized why this place is so special. The grass was like any other grass I have ever seen on a golf course. It seemed to almost glimmer with perfection. Every step I took around the grounds I felt as if I should go back and wash the grass I had stepped in. The people were more dignified and respectful than any other course in golf. Tiger Wood’s was making his first appearance on a golf course since his leave of absence from golf. At a press conference after his practice round Tiger was pleasantly surprised with the fans reception of him back into the game of golf. “The galleries couldn’t be nicer. I mean it was incredible. The encouragement I got; it just blew me away.”

For me the highlight of the day wasn’t Tiger Woods, but instead was a name not as recognizable to the average fan, Fuzzy Zoeller. As we sat on Number 12 of Amen Corner and watched golfers play through our Monday at the Master’s became even more memorable. Zoeller picked four kids from the crowd to see who could hit the ball closest to the hole.

The materialistic prize for the kid that got the ball closest to the hole: A crisp one hundred dollar bill.

After the first three golfers failed to get the ball out of the tee box, ten year old Bobby Jones stepped up to hit. Zoeller said afterwards, “We told him try to relax, put good swing on it, but then we turned him around and showed him all the people up behind number 12, ha ha, so he’d get the feel of that.” Jones did that and then some as he proceeded to hit a strike on the green within twenty feet of the hole. “The first 3 kids just didn’t even make it off the tee box and I got up there and hit it onto the green.” Only at the Master’s. The irony behind the kid’s name, Bobby Jones, makes the story that much more special.

The not materialistic prize for Bobby Jones: A story and a experience of a lifetime that he will be able to share with his own kids one day.

There is probably not another sporting event in the world that would make me miss the Brave’s first game of the season which included Jason Heyward’s spine tingling first Major League home run on the first swing he took as a big leaguer. What made this day so special is not necessarily the game of golf itself, but the experience of Augusta National Golf Club and all its splendor that comes with it.