Augusta National invited me to play, so I did, and WOW!

I’ve always enjoyed watching or covering that little golf tournament amongst the dogwoods and azaleas, but never more so than now. That’s because for the first time ever, I played Augusta National.

You got a minute? Let me grab my invitation from the Green Jacket folks, and it says right here on Augusta National Golf Club stationary:

Monday, April 14, 2008 (that’s the day after last year’s Masters, by the way).

Terry Moore, 8:55 a.m., 10th Tee.

Please present this card at the Main Gate (Gate #2) for entrance to the Club grounds and at the tee for 18 holes of golf.

I’m still tingling.

Before this experience, I ranked Augusta National among my top five sports venues, which is significant. I’ve been just shy of everywhere — from various Olympic sites to Wrigley Field to Daytona International Speedway to Notre Dame Stadium to old Boston Garden to Lambeau Field — while spending three decades covering most major events. Well, after this experience, Augusta National ranks among my top 1a, 1b or 1c in sports venues.

It certainly didn’t hurt Augusta National’s place in my heart after I strolled into Amen Corner as a rookie on the course and promptly conquered No. 11. In other words, I wasn’t spooked by Raes Creek behind the green or the famous winds in the area. I dropped an eight-foot putt for par, and I thought about responding with one of those Tiger fist pumps. But I decided to go old-school — you know, act like you’ve been there before, even if you haven’t.

My Augusta National caddie was excited, though. Then again, maybe he was thinking about getting that tip at the end.

Later, on the No. 15, I didn’t repeat “the shot heard ’round the world” by Gene Sarazen, but I did the equivalent for me: I parred that hole, too. Courtesy of splendid tee and approach shots, I survived the 530 yards featuring that pretty but imposing pond in front of the green and that scary bunker to its right.

Oh, and I have to tell you this: On No. 16, which is played over water with three bunkers hugging the slopping green, I came within inches of a hole-in-one.

Keep this quiet, but I blew my birdie putt and made par. I also won’t tell you what I did on the other 15 holes.

All I know is that I played Augusta National, and life is good.

Anyway, if any of you wishes to share your Augusta National playing experiences, feel free.

46 comments Add your comment

oldmac

April 11th, 2009
10:31 pm

Reminds me of my first visit to the Masters. Me and a buddy had season passes so we rented a room from a local. The family had more than one bedroom and one of the others was rented to a sportswriter from Indiana. This guy was a smarmy, winey little POS. Our room rental included a nice breakfast which we shared with slimey little moron. Sat AM as we were enjoying breakfast, he announces to us that he got picked in the lottery to play Augusta on Monday in the press event but he started complaining about there were two groups and he had to be ready to go at 8am. He also reminded us that he would have to borrow some clubs and would play in tennis shoes. A crime against nature for sure.

After a couple of conversations, my buddy and I decided that we had to prevent this gas-bag from getting on the course-at least not to play so we hatched a plot. We new he had to be on the course by 8, (I think check-in was 7)-so we waited until he was in bed Sunday night and re-set clock back an hour so when he came whistlin’ down the hall at what he thought was 6:45, he was already too late to get to his tee time. Sorry dude-you earned that. Hope you found a career you are more suited for-(fast food would be perfect.)

JB

Josh

April 11th, 2009
9:42 am

I don’t consider golf to be a sport, but good for you Terrence! (As for the idiot posters like Herschel Talker, do you have a life beyond criticizing a sport columnist every time he writes an article? Mr Moore’s not the one who sounds like a broken record; you are.)

UGASlobberknocker

April 11th, 2009
9:22 am

Terrence, when you get away from the race issue; you are a very entertaining writer who I believe connects with real people better than most. I wish you wrote a column like this more often.

Jeff Collins

April 10th, 2009
9:42 am

My grandfather passed away this past February one month shy of his 91st birthday. He was a lifelong member of First United Methodist in Smyrna. Many years ago his Minister moved to First United Methodist of Augusta. Because of their friendship, Pop was invited to play 3 TIMES at Augusta! I would give anything to have witnessed Pop playing on those days. The only story I know from his 3 rounds is that he putted into the lake on 15.

TheAntiMe

April 10th, 2009
8:52 am

That’s really cool, Terence, especially since that quaint little golf course holds a ton of history. As someone who always seemed to have my best rounds at the local Putt Putt course (I was a Master on that Windmill hole) I can only imagine what a rush it had to be for you.

BnB

April 10th, 2009
8:04 am

Terrence has got to laugh and shake his head at the same time every day at the bile he get slung at him no matter what he writes. I guess when you make a living yanking people’s chains it is to be expected but give it a rest guys. As for golf….meh! But having seen all he has seen in the sporting world and to consider this up there is remarkable. Yard billiards just never has pushed any buttons for me no matter how nice the yard is.