I had an awesome day playing Augusta National yesterday...at least, it was awesome, until my phone began buzzing (yes, you can have a cellphone there when the Masters isn't being played) with news on the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Needless to say, we were all distracted by the news, and my most memorable round of golf at the sport's most famous setting became an afterthought. We didn't even mention it on Columbia's Morning News this morning.
Still, I wanted to share a few details, because I got access into that exclusive golf club for an exciting few hours...starting with the drive that only members, guests and Masters competitors (and the occasional CBS camera crew) get to experience.
Snapped that pic from my car as I drove up Magnolia Lane. What a thrill!
One of the biggest photo stops at Augusta National is Founders Circle. You'll see people line up for hours during the tournament to get a shot of the roundabout that features the yellow flower bed planted in the shape of the Masters logo. In fact, you can see the worn spot in the turf where thousands have posed over the last 7 days. But I got the drive-by picture, no waiting!
When I pulled up to the front door of the clubhouse, my clubs were taken to the practice range, while I was escorted into the Champions Locker Room to change my shoes. Yes, I went up the same stairs to the 2nd floor space where those who've won the Masters venture each day of the tournament--where they have a private place to store their belongings, slip into their spikes, and grab a bite before their rounds begin.
Here's a display in the Champions Locker Room with the iconic Green Jacket and trophy--a sterling replica of the clubhouse.
Wondering whose locker I wound up using?
Two-time Masters champion Jose-Maria Olazabal. Not bad!
A few lockers down from me, a familiar four-time champion.
That's Tiger's locker. He "shares" with Jack Burke, Jr. There are only 28 of these oak lockers, so Masters champions typically double-up.
One player's nameplate is longer than the others, because he's the only player to win six times at Augusta.
Jack Nicklaus' locker. The Golden Bear "shares" with the first player to win the Masters, Horton Smith.
I love presidential history, and the clubhouse is full of references to Dwight Eisenhower, who became a member of Augusta National and made 45 visits over the years. In the rear of the Locker Room, there's a display featuring the 34th President's clubs, books and other mementos.
After I soaked in all of the history, I gathered my gear and headed back downstairs, passing the ever-present image of Clifford Roberts, who co-founded the club with Bobby Jones.
On to the relatively new players' practice facility! In my next update!