I didn’t have real high expectations for the 2019 Masters. I was lucky to be invited by an old friend Tyler Frizell who may be fulfilling his own Bucket List by giving people he knows a chance to experience the Masters. All I had to do was find my way to Atlanta, share in one meal expense for 13 people and tip appropriately. He would take care of the rest.
I stayed in a fully catered, maid serviced, and concierge state the entire time. That is unexplainable really. I once received a free ticket and pre party invite to the Pittsburgh-Arizona Super Bowl but nothing like this. NOTHING. Our official local host was Kent Maggert, the father of pro golfer Jeff. He arranged for our Saturday and Sunday passes, the 4 bedroom brick home and all transportation. He also stocked the bar and fridge. The stories and background he provided were dropped to us like cherries on top of the best sundae we ever ate. How I ended up in this Masters travel party is still a bigger mystery than why Koepka seemed to give up on his putt at 18. I was with Troy the Quail Hollow golf pro, a radio market manager from Alaska, 3 neurosurgeons ( 1 of which is friends with George W Bush and was on the NFL Head and Neck committee ) and the rest of Tylers family.
I had never attended a big golf tourney and never dreamed I would have a chance at attending The Masters. I knew all about the traditions of Augusta National. Being a patron at Augusta National was interesting. Here’s what I noticed the most:
-It’s Disneyland clean
– They have guys to wipe down the toilet seat for you between ‘patrons’.
– The concession lines were 8 minutes at most, they held up a sign to tell you that.
– The food is good. I sampled egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches. I lived on bananas, apples and trail mix. I picked grilled chicken out of wraps. They don’t believe in veggies.
-They allow potato chip branded bags or worse, they only label the beer import or domestic. It’s none of your business what kind it is. I didn’t try one.
-Cigarette and cigar smoking is everywhere. Tobacco Road is alive and well.
-No corporate tents blocking fans views. No corporate tents period.
-You can bring backpacks in.
-Fans can leave an unattended chair at 18 or any other hole and use it whenever you want.
-If they catch you with a cell phone you lose your phone and your ticket. The person who sold you the rights to that badge loses it and the approximate $8-10,000 of annual income that comes with it.
Watching Tiger Woods was a surreal experience. We all watched Ali, Tyson, and Michael Jordan. When you see them in person it is just different. When you see them perform it’s miraculous. When you see them at their peak performance in the one of the most memorable days in sports history it’s mind numbing. Here’s what I noticed about Tiger:
-He’s had a huge impact on how a golfer looks physically. Rory, Stenson, and many others are built like track and field athletes. Long and lean.
-Tigers focus is laser like. I watched his threesome walk by to the 15th tee box Sunday. Molinari looked happy to be there. Finau looked relaxed. Tiger looked like he wanted to kill somebody. I am serious.
-He stole a good long look at the 17th scoreboard to see how Koepka was holding up. I then knew exactly what he was thinking.
-The celebration he had on 18 was only partially visible to me. I could see his fists pumping was about all. I did chant Tiger, Tiger Tiger. I don’t regret that.
I decided it was more important to watch Tiger hit into the green at the par 3 16th and tee off the 17th. I never saw a single shot on 18. I couldn’t get close enough. It didnt matter, I could feel the crowd and mass humanity I was with. And grown men cry and women scream. And a Tiger roaring at the world.