As Adam Scott celebrates his Green Jacket, Drew Williamson offers up his final thoughts on The Masters.
Jill and I spent over 12 hours out on the grounds our last day here. The mercurial weather conditions made for a challenging day for the players, but an entertaining and rewarding one for the patrons.
We spent the first three-and-a-half hours sitting in the grandstand immediately to the left of the 4th green, in part because we hadn’t spent much time on 4, and in part because it’s just an absolutely brutal hole. A 240-yard downhill par-3 with a deceptively undulating green guarded by a steep slope in front of the left part of it and large, deep bunkers to the left and in front of the right part of it. We spent the balance of our time on the 3rd green, 6th green, 7th tee, 16th green, and 18th green.
A few (final) observations:
1. The chicken biscuit (served until 10:00 a.m. EDT each day), while solid, is not as delectable as the sausage biscuit (also served until 10:00 a.m. EDT each day).
2. Cliff Claven fun-fact: there is only one palm tree at Augusta National, and it is just short and right of the 4th green.
3. The average—and really every—patron at the Masters is at least relatively knowledgeable about both golf and the field, and every patron is exceedingly well-behaved. I’m sure part of the reason for this is because if a patron misbehaves, he get kicked out, he can never come back, and the person from whom he obtained his badge will never receive one again.
4. I wrote the other day about what a stellar viewing spot the 11th tee is. Having spent some time at 7th tee, I now feel similarly about it. It’s not quite as visually intimidating as 11 (or the 18the tee, for that matter), but the approach to the fairway is still quite narrow, and guys are generally looking to hammer it up the left side. It’s a tough shot that makes for really good theater. The spot is also relatively shaded, providing a welcome respite from Augusta’s humid heat.
5. The air-traffic controllers in the men’s restrooms at Augusta are experts at their craft. Somehow, they are able to get hundreds of people in and out in less than five minutes. And those restrooms are absolutely pristine to boot.
6. As I predicted he would after watching his practice round on Wednesday (with Langher), Mize missed the cut, albeit by only one stroke.
7. One last observation: on Friday, as the sun was going down over the Georgia pines and Jill and I were heading back from the 18th green toward the entrance to the course, we decided to walk past the clubhouse. On the lawn out in front, Tiger, Jason Day and Padraig Harrington were all being interviewed by different members—and, in Tiger’s case, a veritable and predictable slew—of the media. There were a number of patrons, young and old, pressed up against the rope, trying to get a glimpse of and a sound bite from the interviewees—and perhaps even an (absolutely forbidden, per Augusta policy) autograph—when Ricky Fowler emerged from the clubhouse, eating a pimento-cheese sandwich and a granola bar.
Given that we had been down on the 16th green when, less than an hour before, Fowler triple-bogeyed to fall from three-under to even par, I expected him to be dejected, if not downright salty, and, frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had been. Instead, he walked straight out to the rope to a small gathering of young (probably 6- to 11-year-old) patrons, simply said “Hey, how’s it going?” and began to chat them up as he finished his meal.
After the kids got over the initial shock of finding themselves talking to one of their heroes up close and personal, their conversation became more comfortable, more real. One of the kids asked Ricky if she could have an autograph. In about as kid-friendly and just downright nice a way as possible, Ricky explained that he’d love to oblige but couldn’t—because “those were the rules”—and apologized for same. He then told her that he liked the hat she was wearing.
She replied that she liked his as well. And then, reminiscent of the iconic late-‘70s Coke commercial featuring “Mean Joe” Greene, he took it off and gave it to her. I’ll never forget the look on her—and her father’s—face immediately thereafter. And had he had a stack of hats with him, I have no doubt he would have handed one of them out to every kid there. All in all, a really wonderful, genuine, human moment. I am now a fan of Ricky Fowler’s, and probably always will be.
‘Till next time. . .