Crossing One Off The Bucket List
First Impressions Of Augusta National And The Masters
No place makes a first impression like Augusta National. Golf Digest has a long history of inviting top writers, photographers and artists to share their experiences after joining us at the Masters. This month we bring you images from acclaimed photographer Larry Fink, a master observer of social interaction who first appeared in these pages with member-guest photos in the November 2005 issue. Fink's photographs from the 2009 Masters are paired with readers' memories of their first trip to Augusta National, in some cases going back half a century. Enjoy.
ARNOLD IN THE RAIN
The first time I attended the Masters was on a Saturday morning in 1973. The rain was as heavy as any I've ever seen. The only golf taking place was on the practice tee. There were Lee Trevino, Vinny Giles and Arnold Palmer. Trevino left because of the conditions, and Giles soon followed. At about that time a mustachioed gentleman in a big, floppy velour hat brushed by me. I immediately recognized him as LeRoy Neiman, the artist. I'll never forget the rain droplets falling from the end of Palmer's nose.
Some years later I experienced a rush of déjà vu in an art gallery in Atlanta. Across the room, I could not make out the details of a print on the wall, but I knew immediately that I had been there. The hair bristled on the back of my neck. As I neared the picture, I discovered that it was a LeRoy Neiman work titled "Arnie in the Rain."
The round in 1973 was postponed, and the tournament concluded on a Monday, won by Tommy Aaron. I was left with a heck of a story, which I tell anyone who asks about the print hanging in my den.
John Stewart, Charlotte
TICKETS FOR $5
My dad attended his first Masters in 1962 with a few of his golf buds. They bought their tickets at a drugstore for only $5, and he said tickets were being sold pretty much everywhere. Taxis actually drove down Magnolia Lane and dropped you off just in front of the circular drive at the clubhouse. This was the first of my dad's 44 Masters, and he had every badge proudly displayed on an old Augusta National cap.
I was invited to attend my first of 25 Masters in 1973, when I was 13. Dad, Mom and I made the then-12-hour drive from Kentucky to Augusta.
Dad passed away a few years ago, and the last Masters I attended was in 2006.
But I know that every April, Dad is still going to Augusta. If you're in the sitting area behind No. 10 and you sense an unexplained breeze or a tingle on the back of your neck, or maybe the sun looks a bit brighter through the pines, don't worry. It's just Dad returning to the place he most loved.
Terry Clayton, Charlotte
RESPECT PART 1
My first Masters was 1991. I remember the respect the fans had for the pristine course. I saw a man put out a cigarette on the sole of his shoe, and because there were no trash cans near, he put the butt in his pocket.
John Schumacher, Toledo, Ohio
I've been lucky enough to attend four Masters, but my first trip, in 2005, was the most memorable -- almost for the wrong reasons. A fellow golfer -- a very good friend of mine -- knew a guy who was a Masters badge-holder for more than 20 years. The guy would sell the rights to badges for each day of the week. The day you bought was the only day you were going.
My brother and I purchased Thursday's round for that year. We flew from Milwaukee and stayed in Columbia, S.C. But Thursday morning it started to rain, and the starting time was pushed back to 1:30 p.m. Now anxiety turned to fear. I had been waiting my entire life for this, and I was afraid I was going to get rained out.
The gates finally opened, and traffic moved toward the course. I reached into my rainpants and into my cargo shorts for the badges.
They weren't there.
I panicked and started to feel faint. I felt bad for my brother -- we had invested close to $500 already and had nothing to show for it. After what seemed like an eternity, I found the badges. They had slipped between my rainpants and my ankle. Only the elastic around the bottom of the pants kept them from sliding out.
My day on the course was much shorter than it should have been, but I had made it. I was a patron of the Masters.
Mark Johannsen, Milwaukee
I attended my first Masters in 2006 and was in search of two things: a weed on the course and a great pimento-cheese sandwich. I found the sandwich but never found a weed.
Jon Haight, San Antonio