We spent this past weekend at The Masters in Augusta, Georgia. A once-in-a-lifetime trip that lived up to every expectation and exceeded many. Here are a few highlights and/or odd happenings. Make of them what you will.
1. We stayed in a house with a woman named Happy. I swear.
2. I met a man whose wife had gone to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as a poet. When he saw how excited I was to hear this, he said, The place destroyed her. She didn’t write again for 30 years.
3. The fairways — in fact, all of the grass and greenery — at Augusta National Golf Club does not look real. I had to bend down, more than once, and rub the grass with the flat of my hands to make sure. It’s magic, that grass.
4. I have not one picture to prove I was there. Signs everywhere state: No Cell Phones! No Cameras! And they aren’t messing around. We walked through airport-like scanners to get in and I did not see a single electronic device for 2 entire days. This was heavenly. Imagine a place where you do not check the device in your hand, nor see anyone else doing it!!, for hours on end.
5. Even the scoreboards are still hand-lettered. No electronics. When the person behind the scoreboard pulled back a white square to put up a number, thousands of people waited in silence to see what it would say. The minute the number went up, the entire crowd roared or moaned. Together.
6. We spent all morning Sunday in the grandstands on #4 green, and the entire afternoon and evening on the hill at #16 green. Both incredible vantage points, both obtained by showing up at the right time to grab the perfect spot. Dumb luck.
7. That said, we missed Adam Scott’s hole-in-one on #16 why? Because we left our seats one time in 6 hours to get some water, pee, and buy a shirt. So much for luck.
8. Remember Happy? Happy was there with her brother, Bud. Bud had kidney cancer 2 years ago, which spread to his lungs. It is now in his brain. This year Bud’s dream is to go to all 4 major golf tournaments, working his radiation and treatments around his travel schedule. I’ve never met a more upbeat, positive, fun person in my life.
9. For years I’ve heard about “the roars” around Augusta National. When something spectacular happens, you can hear the roar of that crowd no matter where you are on the golf course. When I heard my first roar, a chill ran up my back and my neck and I thought I would cry. The resounding echo of all that joy, all that humanity. That’s what I will remember most about The Masters.
10. And since this is a reading and writing blog, I leave you with these words from the book GOLF IS NOT A GAME OF PERFECT:
The world is full of people happy to tell you that your dreams are unrealistic, that you don’t have the talent to realize them. But a person with great dreams can achieve great things. Your state of mind is a matter of choice. People by and large become what they think about themselves.
Now. Back to work.