Masters Golf: 2009

Great Tournament’s Second Practice Round in Augusta

 

1. Travel from Memphis to Augusta, Ga. Via Atlanta

4. Link to Account of 2002 Masters Trip (scroll down)

2, At Augusta National Golf Club for Practice Round

5. Link to Account of 1994 Masters Trip (scroll down)

3. In Atlanta for Dinner with In-Laws, Flights Home

 

 

Index To Photos  /  Page Updated April 16, 2009 – Twenty-four photos taken by Casey Nolan and his father, Lewis Nolan, at Augusta National Golf Club during the Second Practice Round of the 2009 Masters Tournament are posted in Casey’s albums at the below link:

 

 

http://www.kodakgallery.com/ShareLanding.action?c=j25nr5t.1d2gk28x&x=0&y=bx0rqw&localeid=en_US

 Sign-in may be required if you should want to purchase prints at a nominal cost. Email lewis_nolan@yahoo.com if you cannot access.

 

By LEWIS NOLAN

 

Return to Nolan Travels Home Page

 

After a long night of tossing around in reasonably comfortable beds in a room at the dumpy Masters Inn in Augusta, GA., where room temperatures ranged from cold to hot, my son Casey and I both got up at 7 a.m.

 

The weather outside was quite cool, but the skies over the southeastern Georgia town were clearing. It looked like a promising day for us to attend the Second Practice Round at Augusta National Golf Club, site of what we and a great many others think is the Top Golf Tournament in the World.

 

Casey decided to snooze a bit longer while I went to a skimpy breakfast included in the jacked-up room rate of $200 a night (with 2-night minimum) during Masters Week. A small room off the motel lobby contained an assortment of tiny Danish sweet rolls plus little muffins, small cans of juice and coffee. Always a major eater of breakfast foods, I sampled the offerings and carried a few back to Casey. As is his custom, he passed on breakfast.

 

We drove a mile or two down Washington Road to a well-marked turnoff to Augusta National Golf Club and found a free parking space for our rental Toyota SUV in a hilly lot loosely covered with gravel. I was quickly reminded of the disparity in our age and physical conditioning (I am 65 and he is 34) as I huffed and puffed up the rather steep hillsides for a mile or more to the main entrance of the golf club. It was no more than a walk in the park for Casey, who ran in a 10-mile race in downtown Washington, DC last Saturday for fun.

 

At the entrance, we waited in a long line to pass through a metal detector that checks for such forbidden items as cell phones, guns and pocket knives. A security guard checked my carry-on bag the size of a six-pack that contained binoculars (OK only on Practice Rounds days) and guide sheets. She found a sandwich bag containing several dozen salted, roast almonds. The nuts were confiscated and tossed into a basket containing contraband.

 

By 9:30 a.m., we were though Security and free to go nearly anywhere we wanted on the immaculately groomed golf course. We stopped at a cavernous gift shop by the clubhouse so Casey could buy a blue, cotton sweater to wear underneath his UVA-orange windbreaker plus a blue baseball cap decorated with the Masters logo. I was wearing a black, synthetic material sweater over a short sleeve maroon shirt, with khaki trousers and a medium weight, red jacket plus a baseball cap decorated with the logo of my alma mater, Mississippi State University. We both sported running shoes for the heavy-duty walking on the course.

 

It was a chilly morning. I wore woolen gloves and was glad I had them. The predicted high temp for the day is only 50 degrees, but brisk winds made it feel like the low 40s. I actually felt a bit sorry for the “patrons” (as paying customers are called at the Masters) who were wearing Bermuda shorts and sandals without socks. I fondly remembered our earlier visits to the tournament in 1994 and 2002 when I wore shorts and a lot of Coppertone sunscreen. Links to the accounts of those experiences are at http://www.lewisnolan.com/Masters-1994.htm and Masters-2002.htm.

 

Casey and I walked through much of the legendary course, stopping here and there to take photos of the gloriously blooming azalea bushes. We arrived at the primary seating area near Amen Corner’s 11th green and tee box for the 12th hole, with a good but somewhat distant view of the highly scenic green of No. 12 nestled between Rae’s Creek and a hillside of colorful azaleas.

 

Casey walked to a nearby concession stand and picked up a ham and cheese sandwich for me (sold for a paltry $1.50), plus some chips and drinks. It was symbolic of the excellence of the course and the planning that the sealed sandwich wrapper was a light green plastic – evidently selected with thought so it would fade into the grass if blown adrift. Even the potato chip peanut bags were decorated with the tournament logo and colors. The concession prices were amazingly low (soft drinks were only $1 and beer $2) and only a fraction of that charged at other golf events we’ve attended including the Federal Express St. Jude tournament in Memphis.

 

From our vantage point in the dark green bleachers just behind No. 12 tee box, Casey and I had good views of professional players Billy Mayfair, Phil Mickelson, Shingo Katayama of Japan and a number of lesser known competitors. There were 56 residents of foreign countries among the 106 invitees. (It turned out five days later that Angel Cabrera of Argentina won the tournament in a playoff, the second year in a row that a non-U.S. golfer finished first - Trevor Immelman of South Africa).

 

Only being the second day of Practice Rounds and with the temperature still quite cool, it was not surprising that there were lengthy gaps between groups of players getting the feel of the course by practicing their approach shots and putts. I had a chance to look at a courtesy map handed out to all “Patrons,” and read with interest some cautionary advice about Conduct, Customs and Etiquette written by golfing great and club founder Bobby Jones:

 

            In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play. It is appropriate for

            spectators to applaud successful strokes in proportion to difficulty, but excessive demonstrations by a

            player or his partisans are not proper because of the possible effect upon other competitors.

           

            “Most distressing to those who love the game of golf is the applauding or cheering of misplays or

            misfortunes of a player. Such occurrences have been rare at the Masters but we must eliminate them

            entirely if our patrons are to continue to merit their reputation as the most knowledgeable and considerate

            in the world.”

The fact sheet goes on to state that a “no autograph policy” is enforced on the golf course and autographs are only permitted in the parking lot.

 

Augusta National Golf Club is legend for having and strictly enforcing its strict rules that make it such a pleasure to attend the Masters for true lovers of Golf. The excruciatingly polite - and oh-so-respectful - atmosphere – enforced by several hundred security guards that work for the VERITAS Security firm that took over the contract of long standing by its acquisition of Pinkerton – sometimes results in out-of-control spectators being quietly escorted off the course and having any admittance badges banned for life.

 

I’m sure it wasn’t a coincidence that Delta Airlines’ in-flight magazine published in its April, 2009 issue a page containing some interesting “factoids” about the Masters:

 

 

 

I had hoped to see Tiger on the course, but never did get that chance, nor that of seeing fellow golfing icons Greg Norman and Jack Nicholas. All were on the Augusta course at various times during the week, but never near our vantage points.

 

After an hour or so at “Amen Corner,” Casey and I slowly walked to the spot I consider to be the best viewing point on the course – the bleachers behind No. 14 tee box. Those bleachers offer shade most of the day and a great look at the nearby No. 13 hole partly surrounded by infamous Rae’s Creek and a hillside of brightly blooming azaleas. Just above azaleas is a cart path of the adjacent Augusta Country Club golf course and one occasionally sees its playing members driving past.

 

We also saw Arnold Palmer driving by in a golf cart with fellow, green-jacketed members of the Augusta National Club. Arnold grinned and waved enthusiastically from the fairway to adoring fans sitting and standing by the green ropes that separate crowds from the playing areas.

 

Casey and I spent about an hour in the bleachers along No. 14 tee box. Occasional singles and groups of two or three, lesser-known golfers came through the area. We didn’t see any poorly hit shots veer into the trees on both sides of the fairways near us. Several players ignored the common practice of restraint on courses we’ve played and hit extra shots to sharpen their games. Feeding their players practice balls and retrieving them kept the white-overalls-clad caddies busy.

 

We then walked to a nearby Par 3, Hole No. 16, and watched a few players including Rory Sabbatini hit crowd-pleasing, “skip balls” across a pond of water onto the green. An exceptional shot would draw applause, “ooh’s and ahs” and a roar of approval from the hundreds of spectators.

 

About 3 p.m. and feeling the bite of a chilling wind, Casey and I decided to make it a day. We slowly made our way back to the clubhouse area, stopping here and there to watch the golf or to admire the beautiful scenery and take pictures. We marveled at the absolutely perfect condition of even the closely trimmed “rough,” which would give credit to the most expensive mansion’s front yard.

 

We stood in a line of perhaps several hundred others making an early exit, waiting for our turn to enter the gargantuan golf shop to make some souvenir purchases. I bought a half-dozen golf visors to give to golf-loving friends in the characteristic Augusta green with Masters logos. Casey added to his war pile by adding to his earlier purchase of a souvenir, collapsible golf chair, sweater and cap by buying several Masters-emblazoned souvenirs for his friends.

 

It was a lot easier getting out the main gates than it was getting in. After being on my feet for much of the day I found the long walk up and down the parking area hillsides to be quite tiring. Casey suggested that we check out of our dumpy motel early and drive back to Atlanta late that day. His wife, Caroline, made some calls and arranged a complimentary room for us at the Downtown Sheraton in Atlanta on Casey’s accumulated credit card “points.” 

 

We briefly packed and showered at the Masters Host motel in Augusta then checked out of the prepaid room a day early while it was still daylight. Casey drove the rental Toyota SUV back to Atlanta. I was surprised that our good conversation kept me awake. We got into Atlanta plenty of time to enjoy a wonderful dinner with Caroline’s parents, Ron and JoAnn Glass that evening before flying home the next day.

 

Continue with Part 3 of trip to Augusta  / Return to Nolan Travels