Friday, April 13, 2012

Pimento and Cheese

I Totally F-ing Went to the Masters!
While my DVR was recording the HD feed of The Masters last weekend, I was in Augusta, Georgia, eating pimento and cheese sandwiches and watching the best golfers in the world make their way around Augusta National Golf Club.

It's true. Here are my credentials. I have no other pictures, because just like women*, cameras are not allowed at Augusta National.
I'm not exactly what magic The Colleague pulled to make this one happen, but I can tell you I've never been so surprised to receive a gift in my life. The sequence went something like this:
  • I arrived home to an obviously golf-themed birthday party. Brain says: But I haven't played golf in 4 years. Maybe I'm taking it up again!
  • Guests unscrambled names of flowers and plants as a little party game. Brain says: It's spring!
  • I am asked to make sense of the list of these flower names. Brain says: There are 18 of them. And one of them is "Azalea." This clearly has to do with The Masters. But what the hell is going on?
  • I open a package from Premiere Sports Travel that includes an itinerary for the weekend rounds at Augusta National. Brain says: Error error error.
I know at least two of my two readers think golf is ridiculous to play, let alone watch. But this is Augusta National, and other than The Old Course at St. Andrews, there is no more storied golf course on the planet. And there is no tournament with more compelling stories and history than The Masters. I vividly remember watching as my golf hero, Fred Couples, landed his tee shot on #12 short of the green and staring amazed as his ball defied gravity and somehow didn't roll back into Rae's Creek.

So on day one, after running the gauntlet of Augusta National Security (no cell phones, no electronics, no cameras, no food, no water, no women*...) I walked straight to Amen Corner and sat on the grass, marveling at the fact that I was there. That feeling never wore off. 

Even if this year's tournament had been a bust on the course, it would have been worth it just to be on those grounds. It really was amazing. I will never eat a pimento and cheese sandwich again, but if I do, it will be because I had about 100 of them ($1 a piece) while I was there.

But the tournament was amazing. By nothing more than pure dumb luck, I saw 2 holes in one and a double eagle on the same day. Let me explain the double eagle for both of you. Hole #2 is a 575 yard par 5. I walked up to the ropes near the green just as Louis Oosthuizen was walking up to his first shot, perfectly placed in the middle of the fairway. I'd seen several groups come through here already and very few made much noise. #2 is not the hardest hole on the course, but in tournament play it gives up the fewest eagles of any of the par 5s on the course. 

So Oosthuizen hits his shot from about 255 yards away. Three and a half football fields. The guy next to me says, "Oh, he left it short." His kid says, "It looks pretty good!"

The best thing about this shot is that the ball landed in South Carolina before rolling slowly up and across the green. The crowd applauded a little. It kept rolling. The crowd murmered. It curved toward the hole. The crowd got up on their toes to watch. It kept rolling. Some asshole from 1995 yelled "Get in the hole!" forgetting that John Daly wasn't there. It kept rolling. I said to the guy next to me, "That damn thing is going in the-" It dropped into the hole "-cup."

And the place just went bananas. There is something special about a golf tournament roar. For starters, you can hear one from anywhere on the course. So every fan, sorry, patron, and every golfer on the course knew something amazing happened. And because the course is usually so subdued, it goes from silent to Sounder's home game loud in 3 seconds. As sporting moments go, it is one of the most emotionally overwhelming moments possible, right behing the fighter jet fly-over at the Rose Bowl, which even gets to the sports-resistant Colleague.

So, The Masters was incredible on every level. Augusta, GA? That's another story. What a hole that place is.

*If you were the female CEO of IBM, would you want to be a member of Augusta National? I think not.

1 comment:

ChrisG said...

Your partner is a very special lady. My compliments - to both of you.