Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ten reasons why The Masters is the best tournament in golf

I will be attending the Masters for the second consecutive year. As I prepare for my trip to Augusta National, I reflect on some of the memories that stick out in my mind about what makes this course and tournament the best in the world.
All photos were taken by me at the 2010 Masters Monday practice round at Augusta National except (4) and (9), which were taken by Rob Markham at the 2009 Masters.

1. Hole Number 18: Holly
Imagine walking up to the 18th hole of Augusta National. It is Sunday afternoon and the Green Jacket awaits you. You have a one shot lead and all you need is a par to win the tournament. Every eye of Augusta is on you. Millions of eyes outside of Augusta are watching you. Can you compose yourself and win the Masters?

2. Hole Number 12: Golden Bell 
One of the most famous holes in golf that brings variable weather conditions. This is the shortest par three on the course, and club selection can often be vary difficult. Golfers be aware: stick one in Rae's creek and your Masters dreams could be put on hold for one more year.

3. The Green Jacket
 One of the most prestigious traditions in sports, and the reward for finishing first at Augusta National at the Masters. For professional golfers this is the most sought after item in the game.

4. Phil is the Man
Phil Mickelson is not only a great golfer but also a great man and a true gentleman. Two years ago he played with a Florida State golfer during a practice round. I am sure it was a great experience for Phil but an experience of a lifetime for the Florida State golfer.

5.  The Beverage and Food Menu
Tickets to the Masters are pricey and often difficult to obtain, but once inside the grounds the prices for food and beverages are quite cheap. Grab a pimiento cheese sandwich and bottle of water for $3.00.

6. Masters Chairs
Get to the Masters early and make sure you have your Masters chair. Leave that chair wherever you may choose and walk the grounds of Augusta National. Your chair will not be removed, it will not be touched. It's the Masters.

7. Expect the Unexpected
I had the opportunity to witness a 12-year-old boy hit Fuzzy Zoeller's club. He hit one ball, and it landed within 20 yards of the pin.

8. See a Young Professional Become a Star 
Rory Mcllroy would look great in a Green Jacket. He turns 22 on May 4, 2011.

9. See Something You Might Not Ever See Again
During two tournaments Vijay Signh skipped a ball across the water, and it landed on the green. I guess it's true what they say: these guys are good.

10. Tiger Woods
I had the opportunity to witness Tiger Woods play in his first time back on the course since his chaos off the course events. The gallery cheered louder for him than they did for any other player all day. Will the 2011 Masters be Tiger's return to golf glory?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Skier's Sunday at the Bird Part 1

To get a initial idea of how optimal the conditions were today at Snowbird check out this video I took from the top of the Tram. 11,000 vertical feet.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Skiing in Snowbird/Alta Provides Endless Possibilities

One of the great things about snow skiing is the variable conditions that you deal with. Often times you get dressed put on your skis and have no clue what you are getting into. Unfortunately, sometimes you expect fresh snow and find none. At the same  time there are days where you go out with minimal expectations  and find powder shots you wouldn’t dream possible.

 Springtime in Utah means one thing: variable conditions. Today was my first day on the mountain.  I spent the day skiing with my Dad and we were out early and ready to have a great first day. After the first few runs we could tell today was not going to provide the best skiing conditions. The weather was up and down all day and there were also several other factors that contributed to the subpar snow today.  A big storm passed through about a week ago and provided optimal skiing for the next few days.  Not long after that storm the greater Utah area experienced a warm front and the once fresh powder became flattened heavy snow.

Numerous times throughout the day
I saw skiers having difficult time with conditions
For those of you not familiar with Snowbird and Alta let me give you a background of why its such a sought after place to ski. Snowbird averages 500 inches of snowfall annually. Alta typically receives a similar amount. These two mountains hold a distinct competitive advantage over others outside of Salt Lake City because of there geographical location. Little Cottonwood Canyon experiences a phenomenon called “lake effect” (if you are unfamiliar with the lake effect I will explain it in a later post.)

Knowing that skiing was not at our optimum level we set out to find the best runs on the two mountains and stick with those for the remainder of the day. We ventured over to the Collins Tree’s at Alta, which is usually a go to spot for guaranteed good snow; today the good snow was not there unfortunately. We decided to return back to Snowbird and this proved to be a great decision.

I am typically not a big fan of the Tram but we decided to give it a shot and try to find some good snow. Let’s just say the Tram was the best decision. The tram takes you to the highest point off the mountain 11, 000 feet. We found a great bowl right off the tram, the Upper Cirque. This bowl is almost always great to ski as it gets snow blown in it from close areas on the mountain and it does not receive as much direct sunlight as most places on the mountain. It was so good that I decided to make the 3,240 vertical foot decent three times.

As if skiing today wasn’t enough, Snowbird was hosting the World Freesking Championships today. Some of the world’s best freestyle skiers took Snowbird cliffs to a whole new level.

Freestyle World Championships Provide Locals and
Visitors the opportunity to relax and watch some crazy skiing.
A day of spring skiing always ends with a final lift. My last lift actually eneded up coming prematurely. I got to the base of the mountain and learned that the lifts were temporarily shut down due to a lightning strike not far from the mountain. Thus I had to make a short vertical hike to The Cliff.

Only in Utah.
Only in the Spring.