Sunday tickets to the Masters, and a dream on hold

May 05, 2020

Last Father’s Day, two months after I watched the CBS broadcast of Tiger Woods winning his fifth Masters, my son surprised me with two Sunday tickets to the 2020 Masters. What an incredible gift. I’m 69 years old, and attending the Masters is at the top of my bucket list. For years I’ve tried getting tickets through the lottery, without success or even a reply.

If there’s a downside to getting Masters tickets for Father’s Day, it’s having to wait 10 months to use them, but it gave my son and me something to look forward to. I also had time to get in shape. I’ve read how the elevation changes at Augusta National are more severe than they appear on television. So at the start of this year, I began walking two miles a day, watching what I eat and lifting weights. I knew this would be my one chance to experience the course in person, and I didn’t want a lack of conditioning to take away from it. I’ve stuck to my routine pretty well, losing 15 pounds and feeling better than I have in years. But by early March, the virus had taken hold in the United States, and one sporting event after another was getting canceled. When I heard the Masters had been postponed, I was disappointed but not surprised. When you look at the loss of life, it was easy to keep it in perspective.

I assumed that the tournament would be canceled, and my tickets would go unused. I couldn’t imagine they would put on the Masters in any month other than April. But to my surprise they set a date in November, and for now my tickets are still good. Perhaps by then the worst of this crisis will be behind us, and we can return to something close to our regular lives.

For me, this will include playing golf again with my friends, something I’ve sorely missed. The game has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. My first job was caddieing at a country club that my aunt and uncle belonged to. I started watching professional golf not because I wanted to see what Palmer or Nicklaus would do but because I wanted to watch the caddies and learn from them. My love for the Masters and playing golf came later and has brought me so much joy. In normal times, I get out on the course about twice a week, but during the quarantine, I’ve just been chipping in my yard. As someone in the most-at-risk age group, I’m not interested in taking chances with my health.

My son who gave me the tickets lives in Macon, Ga. I can’t wait until my wife and I can go see him and give him a big hug. Then if we’re lucky, he and I will make that two-hour drive over to Augusta and watch our favorite golf tournament in person.

Jim Downey is a retired civil engineer from Charleston, W.Va.