Wow – I am really, really, REALLY far behind on the blog. Here’s hoping I can play a bit of catch up in the coming weeks…
Travel back with me to April…specifically, April 3rd. This is the day my dad and I had our first Masters experience. My dad had a milestone birthday last summer, and I surprised him with tickets to the Tuesday Practice Rounds. So many friends and colleagues would share tidbits and opinions with me in the months leading up to the event…”definitely bring a chair”…”go directly to the shop and buy everything you want first thing in the morning”…”the sandwiches are only a couple of dollars”…”it is absolutely beautiful”…”they’re serious about no cell phones.” The wait between July and April was borderline unbearable, because I was so excited to see Augusta National Golf Club for myself.
I bought tickets that included a night at the Sheraton Augusta, so we were within minutes of the course. We left the hotel at 7:00am and made it in time to park in the closest lot. From the moment we walked up to the entrance, I was amazed by two things:
- They had security guards with machine guns
- Every, single employee was SO FRIENDLY
Over and over, we were greeted with a similar message, “Welcome to the Masters; we’re glad you’re here!” Many even inquired if it was our first time there (which was probably obvious by the huge grin on my face).
I couldn’t get over the azaleas, which were all in full bloom. They were incredible! On Practice Round days, you are allowed to bring in a “real” camera (no phones), and I was snapping photos every few steps.
We made a beeline for the gift shop, and I’m still marveling at that part of the experience! First of all, there was the windiest maze to get in. Thankfully, there weren’t lines (though I’m sure there are as the week goes on), so we walked quickly through the maze. It was more elaborate than any ride line I’ve experienced. Once we were actually in the store, we were amazed again. It is HUGE, and while it’s chaotic with people everywhere, it is also incredibly organized. There are some traditional racks and shelves with clothing and merchandise, but most of the clothing and hats are hung on the walls with a number attached to them. You walk up to the counter and tell the staff person which number you want and which size, and they get the item for you. Each of these counters probably has 20-40 staff ready to help. Maybe even more! It was wild! Similar to what we experienced outside, everyone working in the store was friendly. I bought a dated print for my house, a hat, a chair, and a couple of gifts. We were in and out in no time! They had an incredibly organized system for storing or shipping your purchases, which was awesome!
Once outside, we took some obligatory photos by the huge scoreboard and then headed for the Clubhouse facing Magnolia Lane to get our picture taken next to the flowers planted in the shape of the Masters logo. I’d read that there was a professional photographer there taking the pictures, but what I didn’t realize is that they would let you download the picture for free! Welcome to Augusta National.
With all of the obligatory tasks complete, we could spend the rest of the day walking the course, eating, and enjoying golf! My dad knew all of the players, but I wasn’t taking notes as I took pictures, so I can’t even begin to label them accurately in this post. We had perfect weather for the event and absolutely loved our day! I’ll let the photos speak to the beauty that is August National…
Let’s pause for a minute to talk about the concessions. Because there are no sponsors (and because it’s part of the charm of The Masters), food and drink are SO CHEAP! I took a picture of the price list for proof! We ate several times throughout the day in an attempt to try as many of the items as we could. I think we would both say that the Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich was our favorite. We ordered a drink each time, too, because you get to keep the dated plastic cup. We collected roughly six of our own, and then I stumbled upon a huge stack of them left in a restroom stall at the end of the day and doubled our loot!
[It’s hard to tell in a photo just how steep the course is]
[We lucked out all day long running into the most famous golfers. Early in the day, we saw Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson at the 16th Hole. This was extra exciting, because they lined up and skipped their golf balls across the water in unison onto the green.]
These photos hardly due justice to the beauty of this golf course. I am so happy we had the opportunity to share this experience together. It was an amazing day!