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I, along with Ross and Big T-Shirt Matt, got back from Augusta yesterday morning. Natty Light flew us out and got us passes for all four days of the tournament. I ran a live blog during the trip, full of updates and observations from our experience there, from a Wednesday Snoop Dogg performance to Kuchar’s ace on Sunday. That blog can be found here here.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect on the experience and recall some of the amazing moments, it’s time to put my thoughts down. By the way, it’s Tuesday and it’s been raining and gloomy since we got back to Austin and I’m definitely not sitting next to the 16th green of Augusta National on Sunday in perfect weather anymore. Back to reality.
1. The very first thing we did after rolling into town Wednesday morning was go to Hooters to meet John Daly. We met John Daly. He was in a t-shirt, gym shorts, sandals, and had a cigarette hanging from his mouth. He was moving merch from his RV in the Hooters parking lot, as he does every Masters week. He is who we thought he was.
2. Natty Light had a VIP section of a bar called The Country Club roped off all week. They set up Grey Goose bottle service and had plenty of Natty available. We went there all but one night. The first night was the Snoop Dogg show, and it would prove to be a tone setter for the week to come. We got there pretty early and for a while it was just the three of us and the guys from Barstool Sports sitting in there. People slowly started to show and by the time Snoop hit the stage it was shoulder to shoulder. I got annihilated.
3. Okay, now for some golf and Augusta National talk. As I discussed in the blog post, I spent the entire first day just walking the course. The actual golf being played was secondary to the course on which they were playing that day. I had seen them play before, but Augusta National was new to me, and it’s Augusta National. After crossing the number 1 fairway I headed for the 10th tee box and followed it down to Amen Corner (11, 12, and 13). I stopped off the fairway on 10 from about where Bubba hit his famous hook. Holy shit.
4. The way I keep describing Augusta National is that the place isn’t real. Or that it doesn’t seem real. It’s like a mirage. Golf heaven. Like no man deserves sex with Emily Ratajkowski, no man deserves to play golf at Augusta National. It’s too perfect. Too pristine. Keep your filthy clubs and Footjoys off that Augusta Bermuda.
5. Amen Corner was pretty cool. As a spectator, you’re only able to get close to the 11 and 12 tee boxes. Other than these two spots, you have to watch the Amen Corner action from afar. It’s a special place, though.
6. You can feed a family of five with 13 bucks at the concessions. It’s all pretty good food, but the menu is extremely basic, and this is because its purpose is to feed massive amounts of people very efficiently, and that’s exactly what it does. They have the process down to an exact science. A line 50 people deep takes only a couple minutes from start to checkout.
7. The “Domestic light beer” is Miller Lite, the “American craft beer” is Blue Moon, and the “Import beer” is Stella Artois. The former is four bucks and the latter two are five bucks. These are the most expensive items on the menu. Clear cup = domestic light beer. Green cup = import and craft beers. They’re color-coded so the cashier knows what to charge you for them.
8. The pimiento cheese gets all the hype but don’t sleep on the BBQ (pulled pork) sandwich.
9. My favorite spot on the course, from the perspective of a spectator, is by the green on the par 3 16th. The gallery surrounds the hole, and it’s a very large, hyped crowd and the scenery is hard to beat. You can also see action on three other holes right around you: holes 6, 15, and 17. More on this spot later.
10. I spent too much money in the Golf Shop on Thursday. They have something like 68 golf polos to choose from and they are all awesome. I bought three. The price per shirt was $79 (I think this includes all polos from the current year’s offering). They also had t-shirts, hats, coasters, prints, key chains, chairs, coffee mugs, and many other things that you will definitely want as you walk by them. We heard rumors that they bring in anywhere from 12 to 50 million dollars per day in merchandise revenue. It’s probably a lot closer to 12, but still ridiculous.
11. The chair situation is pretty neat. Yes, neat. On the back of the chairs is a window where you can either place your business card, or write your name on a blank one, and this is your seat, your home base for the day. You can leave your chair somewhere at 8:30 and not return until 3:00 in the afternoon and it will be there waiting for you, unoccupied.
12. There’s a FedEx stand next to the golf shop so you can ship whatever you buy to your home instead of carrying it around all day. Their goal is to create the ultimate patron experience, and no one does it better.
13. The first thing I noticed when walking out on the grounds is the extreme undulations that your TV isn’t able to pick up. The fairways of 1, 2, 10, and 18 are STEEP. Like crazy steep. The approach shot on 18 is basically a blind shot, as the green is straight uphill from where the approach shots were hit (we watched Sergio and Rose finish from here on Sunday). This was shocking to me.
14. Gary Sheffield spent a lot of money in the golf shop.
15. The greens are tough and will eat any average golfer alive. You have to be so precise and control your spin in order to settle anywhere close to the hole locations. Missing the mark by a yard or two can cost you dearly (see: Spieth’s quadruple on 15 Thursday).
16. The course is a perfect setup for spectators. The holes are all so close together, so it’s easy to bounce around and see a lot of golf. If you’re on 16 and someone hits an incredible shot on 2, you hear the crowd erupt clear as day.
17. No phones allowed on the grounds, which was a nice escape but also kind of shitty. I got separated from the squad on Thursday and we never linked back until we got back to the house.
18. Our house was a 10 minute walk from Augusta National, by the way. Amazing.
19. Someone pitched me a theory yesterday (Monday) that I’ve been thinking about since. He asked me if I saw any birds or squirrels while I was there. I don’t recall seeing any, but, to be fair, I wasn’t looking for them. I did hear birds while there, however. His theory, which he claims is supported by many others, is that they intentionally keep birds and squirrels off the grounds somehow and they pump fake bird sounds through the trees. I don’t know the purpose of doing this but it’s something to think about?
20. The Natty Shack on Friday and Saturday was a fun spot. Smylie Kaufman was there. Really nice guy. We interviewed him on site Saturday. He said I’d shoot a 110 at Augusta National in perfect conditions. I’ll take it. Listen below.
21. A Natty-mosa is a mimosa with Natty instead of champagne. Try it. You’ll be surprised how good it is.
22. We hit The Country Club Friday night with Smylie. We drank more Natty and stayed out way too late.
23. Sunday was a big day. We got out there at 7:45 and brought our chairs to the 16th green. It was a spot I had in mind ever since seeing it for the first time on Thursday. It was the perfect setting, both for golf action and scenery.
24. A Rodge was out there wandering around by himself.
25. We spent about two hours at Amen Corner by the 12th tee then made our way to our chairs to see most of the groups come though, and we stayed there until Rose and Sergio played it.
26. We got there early enough to see the 16th pin placement, which was pretty mesmerizing. They had a team of Green Jackets out there observing while it was placed. They seemed pleased with he location. The grounds crew did some quick measuring but it seemed like a pretty inexact system of choosing its location.
27. Any time someone hit a bunker shot and sprayed sand up on the green, a guy would come out after they finished with this very long, very flexible bamboo (?) rod that he used to clear the sand off the putting surface. Like a sweeping motion. It must have been 15 feet long. I had never seen anything like it.
28. The pin was placed in the traditional location for Sunday, I believe. The hole was in a collection area of the green. The smart play was to throw your shot out long and right and let it trickle down toward the hole. We watched shots land all day long, along with thousands of others, so we collectively knew if a ball had a good chance of being close as it landed. Lots of “oh yeah that’s coming back” and “nah too short” comments from the gallery on the day. Plenty of “oohs” and “ahs” all day long, too, hoping for a hole-in-one. A few came close. Lots of bogeys on the day, actually. Tough hole location for the flat stick.
29. Then Kuchar took the tee box. We were on the 16th for his hole-in-one and it was my golf highlight of the trip by a mile. Where we were sitting, we couldn’t see the guys hit their tee shots, so we had to spot the ball mid-flight as it became visible over the gallery.
30. When Kuchar’s ball hit, absolutely everyone sitting around the green, all several thousand of us, knew this shot was special. It was the perfect distance to roll back and settle near the hole — a shot unlike the others we had seen all day. We all stood up simultaneously and began shouting at the ball, willing it to roll back to the hole. As it became clear the ball was on a great line, the shouts turned to a deafening fever pitch. And when it dropped, we all absolutely erupted. Incredible moment that I will never forget. Then he signed the ball and gave it to the Puma shirt/fedora kid. Kuch stole a fan from Rickie on Sunday. Kuchar, what a guy. And what a moment.
31. It was a downer that Spieth struggled all day but he stuck his shot on 16 and made birdie, so at least we saw that.
32. We could see Sergio and Rose approach the par 5 15th from our seats on 16. We couldn’t see their shots land on the green because of its elevation but we knew Rose was close and Sergio was very close because of the roars from the crowd, then we knew Sergio made eagle and Rose birdied, so it was all square heading to 16. Sergio stuck his tee shot on 16 while Rose also hit a great shot. Rose made his and Sergio missed. After these guys cleared 16, it was a mass exodus of patrons heading to 18, us included.
33. We couldn’t get close to the green as they finished because all in attendance had gathered there. We had to go by crowd reactions and word to radiate outward from the green about who had won.
34. I’m happy for Sergio. He deserved that one.
35. All in all, it was the trip of a lifetime..
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