Last April during the telecast of the Masters it was announced that extra tickets for the 2012 Masters would be available on a lottery basis.
I immediately logged onto www.masters.com and applied for the maximum number of tickets for every day.
I also contacted six friends. Yes, I do have six friends and asked them to apply also.
Later in the year I received an email from the Masters that my request had been honored and I would receive four tickets for the Tuesday practice round.
Of the other six applications, my brother-in-law also received four tickets for the Wednesday practice round.
Thus on Monday April 2, 2012, my wife and I plus my son and his fiance’ loaded up our trusty Ford Expedition, filled with $4.00/gallon gasoline and headed south to look for the monument to Bobby Jones.
The general admission gate brings you into the grounds bordering the new driving range and practice area.
This 18-acre practice facility was opened in 2010 and is meticulous just like everything else at Augusta National.
There are two 400-yard fairways carved through tall Georgia Pines that replicate Augusta National’s tree-lined fairways.
Two practice chipping greens complete with bunkers and groomed run-off areas that allow players to practice every possible shot that they may encounter around the greens.
There are also five rows of individual cushioned seats set into a hill behind the driving range for patron viewing comfort. The seating resembles a high-priced seat in the loge section of a brick football stadium with plenty of leg room. It is very impressive to say the least.
The next thing that is evident to the golf fan experiencing Augusta National for the first time is the finely-manicured grounds. Notice I did not just say fairways and greens.
The grounds, all of the grounds, are a lush carpet of green grass. The only area that is not covered with a thick green carpet is the areas under the stately Georgia Pines that is covered with a thick mat of pine needles.
As we made our way along the first fairway, the next noticeable distinction of Augusta National is the hilly terrain and the elevation change from tee to fairway to green.
Hole No. 9 is a perfect example of dramatic change in terrain that affect the golfers. Players drive downhill into a relatively wide fairway but are faced with a downhill side-hill lie. The second shot must be played uphill some 40 feet to an elevated green with a false front. Rather tricky endeavor to say the least.
From the television coverage the viewer does not get a true sense of the great collection of par-three holes at Augusta.
Everyone is familiar with the two par-threes on the back nine, No. 12 and No. 16, but the two par-threes on the front nine are equally intriguing.
Hole No. 4 presents a 240-yard carry to a right-to-left sloping green guarded by two deep bunkers.
Hole No. 6 is 180-yard carry to a large undulating green over a large bunker and drops in elevation approximately 60 feet. It is a very beautiful hole.
Most tournament venues turn into a tent city for a week. All of the structures at the Masters that house restroom facilities, merchandise and food pavilions are permanent structures.
Hospitality tents are not present during the Masters either. Every building, tree and blade of grass fit into the overall landscape perfectly. It is a complete masterpiece.
One other item caught my interest. The Masters organizers must spend hours training the staff that works at the tournament in the finer points of customer service.
Every food service person, ticket taker, sales person in the merchandise shop and even every restroom attendant is cordial and pleasant.
Each and everyone is cordial, expresses their gratitude for your attendance at the Masters and goes out of their way to make conversation and provide the very best customer service possible.
Attending the Masters at Augusta National is truly a unique experience. I am extremely glad that I was able to see the golf course and enjoy the atmosphere that surrounds it.
I can’t wait for the lottery process to begin this year.