“It’s Augusta National...it’s the place where dreams come true.”
“Maybe this is heaven.”
April 9, 2013, a date they can chisel on my tombstone, marks the day I visited golf’s version of heaven on earth.
I’ve prayed for decades to visit this Field of Dreams, the Masters at Augusta National, but never thought I’d get the chance.
Over 60-plus years, I’ve attended U.S. Opens, PGA Championships, a Ryder Cup, even the 1997 Open Championship at Troon in Scotland, but never the Masters.
My Masters dream came true last year when we secured Tuesday practice round tickets. My daughter (Chicago teacher/artist Kristie Keenon--visit kristiekeenon.com) and I spent a morning and afternoon exploring the course where the golfing gods have competed since 1934.
We’ve all seen the majesty of the Masters cathedral on TV--the towering pines, live oaks planted 150 years ago, dogwoods, azaleas and ornamental shrubs that adorn the Augusta National golfscape.
These heavenly images are marvelous, but you don‘t get a true sense of Augusta’s rolling terrain, course layout and how each hole fits until you walk it, until you “feel it with your feet.”
We spent five hours on the course before we recorded our first bogey. And it was a MAJOR MASTERS BOGEY. We lost our car, couldn’t remember where we parked. Tournament workers rescued the clueless couple, assuring us we weren’t the first patrons (err, idiots) to forget where they parked. They squired us around on a golf cart for TWO AND A HALF HOURS over acres and acres of parking areas before we found our ride home--right where we left it.
Our final Masters scorecard reads: 5 hours on course, 2 ½ hours looking for car. We’d really like a mulligan on that one, a second shot at visiting the Masters.
Is this heaven? Yes it is, and we’ll keep knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door, praying to God they’ll let us back in.