With apologies to the folks at Oakmont, I spent my Sunday at perhaps the most beautiful course in the country and maybe even the world – Augusta National. Thanks to some good fortune, and the brother of by best friend Joe ( seen below ), I was able to enjoy the final round of the Masters.
A month in the planning, I arrived in the small town of Augusta, Georgia on Saturday and the following morning, we went to the nearby Azalea club for breakfast before walking the 200 yards to the main patron gate.
Augusta National is one of the country’s most exclusive clubs, except when they open their doors for the Masters. Once inside, it’s almost like being transported to a different world. A world of pristine fairways, perfectly-manicured greens and sand traps that seemed untouched. We immediately went to the famed group of holes known as Amen corner. For you golfers out there, as beautiful as Amen corner looks on TV, it’s even better in person. As I walk, I can almost hear that trademark music that CBS plays during it’s Masters broadcast. All the while, I’m sitting there kicking myself and saying to myself “can you believe I’m at the Masters?”.
We spent the day following different players. I was within inches of Tiger Woods and nearly got hit by Stuart Appleby’s tee shot on number one. I saw Vijay Singh tee off on 15 and caught eventual winner Zach Johnson playing Amen corner. I would love to show you pictures, but neither cameras nor cell phones are allowed on the course. Still, the images of the day have been burned in my brains — and will be there forever.
I know it’s just a golf course and just a tournament to many of you. But imagine standing over the Grand Canyon, shuffling through Stonehenge or walking atop the Great Wall. If you can envision these wonders of the world, then you understand why Augusta was so special for me – and for those of my friends who couldn’t go but wish they had. I think my wife Sharon summed it up best when she said “I’m jealous! By the way, can you pick up something for me?”.
Before I finish, a quick follow-up to my comments concerning the Imus controversy. Thanks to everyone for your responses. Some agreed with me and others – like my wife – completed disagreed. No matter on which side of the fence you fall, one thing that indisputable in all this. The women of Rutgers University have presented themselves as able, accomplished players and students and have represented not only womens college basketball well, but young women nationwide.
The way they conducted themselves at the press conference showed a maturity not seen in many professional athletes. I can only hope that once this is all over, we look at these young women and their sport in a very different light. One in which we will will find not only great athletic talent, but also great role models.