Saturday was a long but special day, my third visit to Masters. Gassed up the CRV shortly before seven and made it to Reid’s by twenty after. Meaghan and Liza were already awake, and they greeted me at the door.
drove through downtown and headed into the morning sun on I-20. As we chatted I
had one ear on the radio, and turned it up when 92.9’s Sam Crenshaw introduced
Lang, who spoke in depth about the Hawks as they enter the playoffs. He does a
better job as a guest, speaking specifically and succinctly, with the knowledge
of a professional but the passion of a fan. Lang ends the segment asking Sam
for a shout-out to Reid and Dave listening on their way to Augusta. How about that!
sun-drenched interstate is filled with luxury vehicles full of high-achievers racing
at high speeds to Augusta. I’m in a little bit of a hurry only to meet Burch,
who has generously offered up the Masters badges. For a long while I follow an
SUV driving 74 MPH. Reid and I talk Tech basketball, the Masters, and
other topics. We ease into the rest stop at mile marker 182 at meet Burch, who
expertly offers the best route to the course.
next stop was Bojangles for bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits. Traffic doesn’t
back up until Alexander meets Washington Road, but in no time we’re parked in
the massive grass parking lot adjoining the course. It’s a long walk to the
grounds, through the gates, past the practice area, and toward the course.
first players we saw at hole number one were Matt Kuchar and Thailand’s Thonghai
Jaidee, hitting their second shots. We crossed over to the eighth hole and saw
the first group of the day: Bubba Watson and marker Jeff Knox, the Augusta National
member recently written up in Sports Illustrated. After Knox hit his second
shot he walked over to chat with a friend who happened to be standing right
next to me.
we crossed over to the second green, where we watched several groups chip and
putt: Adam Scott and Charley Hoffman, Kuchar and Jaidee, Henrik Stenson and
Hunter Mahan, and Harris English and French amateur Romain Langasque. We cross
to the third fairway, but continue on across 7, 17, and 15. We settle in the
grandstand overlooking the 14th tee and 13th green. Behind the green
tree tall pines are bent to the left from the wind. In the distance we can see
the bridge leading across Rae’s Creek to the 12th green.
goes for the green on his second shot and hits it close. Knox laid up just
short of the creek, and then chips it close. While Knox was hitting Bubba and
his caddie were transfixed by something in the creek. They waited at the bridge
for Knox and his caddie to point out what they were looking at. Perhaps a
snake? After returning their attention to golf, both made their birdie putts.
after group hit their approach shots and putted on 13, and teed off 14. About
half went for it and half laid up. Only a couple found trouble in or around the
creek. Sergio’s downhill lie gave him fits. Early in the day competitors were
aimed under the hole and putting uphill. Later on in the day more aimed right
at the flag. A few found bad lies in bunkers beyond the hole. A handful of
birdies were made, including gems by former champions Larry Mize (who had laid
up) and Bernhard Langer (who didn’t). Bill Haas made the only eagle, chipping
in from his position across the creek.
of the 57 making the cut were from foreign countries. Portly Kiradech
Aphibarnrat of Thailand didn’t look like he’d make it up the 14th fairway,
plodding along ten yards behind playing partner Hideki Matsuyama. Many familiar
names missed the cut: Phil. Rickie. Els. Zach Johnson. Vijay. Tom Watson.
Schartzel. Mike Wehr. Mark O’Meara. Ian Woosnam. Ryan Moore.
back gate golf shop wasn’t far, though it was up a hill. The line moved
quickly, and soon we were inside. Lots of nice stuff, but nothing reached out
and grabbed me. Nice dri-fit quarter zip pullovers. Dog collars. Socks.
Umbrellas. The green Masters folding chairs were only $30.00, but they wouldn’t
work well at the beach. A wall of caps, all the dreaded one size fits all. I
had noticed marker Jeff Knox sporting a nice green Augusta National cap I’d
never seen before, so we selected the blue version for Lang. I hope it fits. At
the last minute I bought a keychain for Ceil.
line at the concession stand. Two egg salad sandwiches and Coke (me) and
chicken wrap, mini carrots, and Coke (Reid) might’ve cost $30.00 at Turner Field,
but at the Masters set us back eleven bucks. We sat and ate and took our time
getting back, but we only missed two groups. I had the thought that I should’ve
brought a pen and blank piece of paper to take notes. Maybe next time.
only was there an abundance of great golf to watch, the day at the Masters was
great for two of my other favorite pastimes: people watching and shoe watching.
Patrons came dressed in everything from navy blazers and sundresses to cargo
shorts and T-shirts. Lots of golf jackets and Masters attire. Golf caps and Masters
caps new and old. I had chosen to wear my Braves road cap, to represent Georgia’s
home team. I only saw one other Braves cap. Also one Royals cap, a Twins cap,
two Astros cap, and predictably - two Red Sox caps.
was a veritable feast of shoes to look at. Scores of fashionable Nike running
shoes. A long-haired white sports junkie in his late twenties rocked a huge pair
of Air Jordans. A middle-aged guy was wearing a pair of dated green leather
Puma Californias. Also plenty of golf shoes, ranging from full on soft spikes
to the latest in spikeless models. Saw one pair of my black adidas adicross
golf shoes. No one was wearing Ryan Moore’s fashionable True Linkswear golf
shoes. But the one shoe I saw more than any other was the very pair of brown
leather ECCO spikeless shoes I has chosen to wear. I saw four or five guys
wearing them, most with the original orange shoestrings that came with the
few players rocked cool footwear as well. Rory wore an interesting pair of
Kobe-modeled Nikes with blue uppers (top). Keegan Bradley’s Air Jordans has a huger
45 on them 9above). Spieth wore his same ugly pair of Under Armors. Snedecker wore pink
pants (below). Mize, Bubba, Matsuyama, and amateur DeChambeau (and others) wore all
black. I saw a patron in black pants and Nikes, something I could’ve worn. But
I’m content in my khakis, white golf shirt, and Columbia pullover.
Spieth and McIlroy teed off on 14 the grandstand emptied. We followed the crowd
to the 15th fairway where we watched the last three groups hit their approach
shots. Rory’s tee shot sailed left near a spot we had just vacated. I stood ten
yards behind him as he effortlessly drew his approach around a tree and onto
the green – an amazing shot.
we moved to the 17th green, yet another spot I had never before lingered.
Kjeldsen made a nice chip from behind the green to save par. As Rory and Spieth
neared the crowd grew. Professional photographers edged near to record the
action. After they putted out we ran into Reid and Andrew Hall. I laughed too
loudly at a comment – just as Spieth teed off into the trees on 18.
and I made our way back toward the main gate, stopping to watch Rory hit his
approach on 18. Two golfers toiled on the range. One was 58 year-old Langer,
whose bogey on 18 keeps him out of Sunday’s final group. As we walked through
the parking lot my fitbit hit 10000 steps.
make it back to the car and join the gridlock on Washington Road. Then traffic
clears and we meet Burch at the westbound rest stop. I speed home, hitting the downtown
connector to join gridlocked traffic from the Braves game. After dropping off
Reid, I speed home, making it just before 11 pm. Barney had been home alone all
day, but was glad to see me.