Every golfer has a bucket list of golf courses they would love to play or tournaments they would like to attend.
I’ve been fortunate enough to tick many off my list but the one that was missing was The Masters. This was the year I was finally able to fulfil that dream.
Our LPGA member credentials give us daily access to the tournament, which is great, but it’s always been a case of trying to get a ticket for my husband Dave. To be honest, if I went without him I would probably be divorced.
This year we managed to get him tickets for the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and thankfully it was when the weather was good. We arrived on Monday around mid-morning, a little after the rush to get in the gate.
The first thing that struck me was how smoothly everything flows, considering the number of patrons at the tournament. There are different food areas where you can get your famous pimento cheese or chicken salad sandwiches along with a few other snacks and drinks, and you never wait more than five minutes in a line.
The second thing that amazed me is the size of the property. It’s huge!
Thirdly, everyone speaks about how undulating the course is but until you see it for yourself and walk it, you can’t really believe it. TV really doesn’t do it justice.
On day one we walked the front nine and on our way out made a stop by the impressive merchandise store where we spent far too much money but, hey, who knows when we are going to go back, so we took the opportunity.
On day two we walked mostly with Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Aldrich Potgieter. It was cool hearing a few South African accents in the crowd and chatting to a few of them. It is impressive to see the men play but when you are continually surrounded by professional golfers, you are less in awe of how well they strike the ball than your average amateur attending the tournament.
I was more interested in walking the course trying to see all the undulations and appreciating how precise you must be with your approach shots.
For the men, Augusta really isn’t that long any more and while it doesn’t have much rough, that doesn’t mean you can just bomb it off the tee. You need to strategise what angle of the fairway you need to come in from to attack certain pin placements, so it really is a second-shot golf course.
By day three we were exhausted, having been on the road for seven weeks and having walked the course flat for two days, so we decided to sit on various parts of the course where we could see several holes.
Unfortunately, we had to leave by midday to drive back to Atlanta to catch a flight to Florida, so we couldn’t stick around to watch the par-three contest, but it was nevertheless an amazing few days’ experience that Dave and I will cherish for the rest of our lives.
– This column first appeared in the June 2023 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine.