A few weeks back Dad sends me an email at work. Normally personal emails to my work addressed are reserved for somber topics or possible gentle reminders from Cindy. Something more urgent than what typically waits for me to pick it up when I get home. You see, my work only allows me to receive emails from the bank email vs. web-based email clients like my beloved Gmail. Something about too risky to allow good corporate stewards access to the dangers of the internet and their dreaded mail tools. Ah, so much for all the convenience offered by having everything enabled via the World Wide Web. But I have digressed. This email was different. It posed an important question. “Would you be interested in going to The Masters with me? I have come into 2 tickets for the practice round and Par 3 Tourney on Wednesday.” I hesitated for about a half of a second, maybe less, and jumped at the chance. It would be my 5th trip down to what I believe may be heaven. When I think of heaven, I see the Masters. The 13th green. Maybe the panoramic view from the 9th green. The 2nd shot into the 10th green. Definitely the pimiento cheese sandwiches (still $1.50).
A 6:40am on Wednesday morning I hit the road to meet Dad. At 9:03, after one brief gas stop, I arrived at the free parking across the street from entrance 6a. Dad and I spoke via cell phone and he confirmed he was only 15 minutes or so behind me. We would meet at gate 9 as soon as we both could get there. I walked towards the gate with offers for $2.50 badge holders increasing to $5 as you got closer being thrown at me. I kept my eyes peeled for dad. 15 minutes later I see the distractingly burnt (as in bad food, overcooked meat, or a worn out old skin) orange shirt of a Tennessee fan out of the corner of my eye. I know this kind of team pride after the year the Vols fans only exists in a few people, even fewer in the state of Georgia. It was him so I took off in a jog to catch him. The cost of missing my dad while I waited at 6a and we agreed to meet at gate 9 was about a mile walk. We turned back to 6a and entered God’s Country. Or maybe God’s Country with a propensity for heavy duty fertilizer but we aren’t going there.
We walked in with thousands, and stopped by the driving range for a quick peek. Then we caught Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Rory McIlroy, Stewart Cink, Tiger, Camillo Villegas and others on the back nine before enjoying the Pimiento Cheese, Egg Salad, Sweet Tea sandwiches over lunch. Amen Corner then off to quickly run through the front 9 before soaking in the Par 3 tourney. After the Par 3 tourney we hit the gift shop where any known item could be, and had been branded with a Masters Logo. 2 hours back to Fort Mill for dinner with the family. A great day!
It is difficult to describe the uniqueness and beauty of this place. I won’t try more than 3 bullets:
- Food costs nearly the same that it did 20 years ago – truly an inflation-free environment.
- The grounds are pristine and nearly every flower bud in the joint has been groomed to bloom on Sunday’s round.
- Process excellence in every form of the word is show here. The men’s bathroom with 50 people in line took 2 minutes to get to a stall. Truly impressive organization here.
Thanks again to my dad and his friend Steve for the opportunity to get back to the greatest major golf tournament ever. It is a special, special place that only being there can explain the beauty of the place.