"Want to go to The Masters?"

"Want to go to The Masters?"

Its no coincidence we are launching FutureBirdies during the greatest week in golf.  It's a week I’ll never forget after attending for the first time in 1998, at the age of 19.

I received a call from one of my best friends, “Want to go the The Masters?”

Me: “The Masters?” “Like the golf tournament?”

Friend:  “Yes, the golf tournament”

Me: “Where are we staying?”

Friend: “Parents friends house in Augusta.  Bring a little cash and some clothes.”

Me: “Are you driving or am I driving?”

Friend: “I’m driving but you're paying for gas.”

It was .79 per gallon back then. 

Me: “Ok, deal.”

My buddy picked me up and we drove 4.5 hours from Tennessee to Augusta. 

The excitement and the nerves are indescribable when you walk through the gate and start to see familiar landmarks. 

The honorary starter ceremony reminded me of going to the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington for the first time.  You could hear a pin drop and everybody respected the moment and sacred ground. 

On the first tee early on a foggy Thursday morning, front row, on the ropes, three older gentlemen stood there looking down the fairway. Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen, all born before the First World War, were right in front of us.

We stayed there until we saw names like Jack Nicklaus (T-6 that year), Gary Player and Arnold Palmer get swapped out on the little pairing board that stands just above the crowd. 

Great mid-career players like Couples, Elkington, Montgomery, Calcavecchia, Olazabal, Haas, Clarke, Toms, Azinger, Langer and O’Meara.

Young guns like Daly, Furyk, Westwood, Kuchar, Cink, Leonard, Duval, were all there.

And of course, Tiger Woods, the defending champion.   We were there, almost directly behind him when hit his first drive of the day.

A man with a green jacket, friend of my friends dad, met us under that big oak tree in front of the clubhouse.  We toured the old press room, which looked like NASA mission control. We got to walk into Butler Cabin and take a look around, all behind the scenes stuff you never forget. 

Not sure if I was the first call my friend made that day, I’m sure glad I was there to pick up.

Have a great Masters week, the greatest week of the year.