Spring is here and, along with it, comes the beginning to the 2012 golf season. No, I’m not referring to our opening day at Tetherow on April 1, but rather the Masters Tournament, held at beautiful Augusta National Golf Club from April 5-8.
For many golfers, myself included, Masters week is their favorite week of the year. Each year, Augusta National expands its online and television coverage, allowing for the “patrons” to experience more and more of the Masters Tournament.
The Masters and Augusta are particularly special to me. I attended my first Masters as a freshman in college in 1997 with my father—the year a young kid named Tiger Woods won his first major, setting almost every Masters record along the way to his 12-stroke victory. I’ll never forget my first footstep onto the turf at Augusta National. I had goosebumps. My father and I purchased our obligatory green Masters folding chairs, and walked down to Amen Corner to set up our chairs at the 13th green. I was amazed to find out that we could simply leave our chairs set up, wander around the property, watch the best players in the world play the best course in the world, and when we returned in the afternoon with a Coca Cola and a $1.25 Pimento and Cheese sandwich, our chairs were still waiting for us, unoccupied.
I’ve since been back to Augusta for two additional Masters, and watched Phil Mickelson win his second green jacket, and Angel Cabrera pick up his first in a three-way playoff victory. Each and every day, I’d follow my same routine: speed walk (you don’t run at the Masters) down to 16 green (the par 3 with the pond), set up my green Masters chair, then walk to Amen Corner and soak in the beauty of 11, 12 and 13. Each day, I’d stand behind the 12th tee box and dream of someday being able to walk across the Hogan Bridge and cross Rae’s Creek. Like almost every other golfer, my dream has always been to play at Augusta, but I never fathomed that I’d have the chance.
Then, in September of 2009, I received an email. A good friend of mine, a high school golf coach in the Atlanta area, invited me to come to Georgia in November for a golf trip. Each year, he travels to central Oregon with his team, and I always do my best to help set up a golfing itinerary for their group. In the email, he thanked me for helping with the high school team over the years, and listed a number of courses which I could choose from for a three-day golf trip. I was amazed as I read through the list of great private courses in the Atlanta area—and there, at the end of the list, was “Augusta National Golf Club.” The shock eventually wore off and I quickly made plane reservations and circled November 21, 2009, on my calendar as the day that would change my golfing life.
A very gracious member of Augusta whose son was on my friend’s golf team hosted me, another local pro, and the high school golf coach at Augusta. We pinched ourselves as we drove down Magnolia Lane toward the iconic white clubhouse. After changing our shoes in the Members Locker room and hitting a few practice balls, our caddies took us over to the Par 3 course, which hosts the Par 3 tournament each Wednesday of Masters Week. After getting a few of our nerves out of our system, we walked over to the first tee at Augusta National. The rest of the day was a blur. My nerves got the best of me, as the 81 on the scorecard showed, but I did manage to birdie the 7th and 11th holes, and was even par through the three holes that make up Amen Corner. After our round, our host gave us a tour of the clubhouse where we saw the Champions Locker Room, the Crow’s nest—where the amateurs stay during the Masters tournament—and the Member’s Dining Room. Other than my wedding day, and the day my daughter was born, it will go down as the greatest day of my life.
Caleb Anderson, PGA Head Professional, Tetherow Golf Club