Wednesday, May 8, 2013
By all accounts my dad was a stud in high school. He was an exceptional athlete, playing football, basketball, running track. He made all-region and all-state, and some of his accomplishments still hang in his high school gym. He played golf from a very young age, learning by caddying at his local country club. It has been the sport he loved the most I think. Because of his love of sport it was kind of a twist of fate that my dad would have three girls. He swears he wouldn't want it any other way; that once he had his first girl he fell in love and never wanted a son after that. It's a good thing, really, because he would have been disappointed!
Growing up, watching sports was something I did with my dad. It was our way of bonding. Although I grew up around the game of golf - going to tournaments (my dad had friends on the PGA tour), it wasn't until we moved to Florida that I really began to play golf. Dad would often take me and my sister out at the end of the day when the course was really calm, the sun was setting and the temperature in southern Florida was cooling. At first we loved riding on the golf cart, seeing the birds, fish, turtles and the occasional snake or alligator. In high school I worked at the course during my summers and I joined the golf team my sophomore year. Although I had a coach, my dad was really the one who taught me most of what I learned as a golfer. And though I learned a lot about golf on the course, I probably learned more about life than golf during those afternoons and evenings with my dad.
My dad has been to golf tournaments all over the US and the world. He had been to 3 of the 4 "Majors" on the PGA tour, with the only one he hadn't been to being The Masters, which is held here in Georgia. After he moved here we always talked about going, but never wanted to spend the absurd amount of money the tickets go for. This past winter, his company, The C12 Group, hosted a 20th Anniversary event, and my dad met a new member who lived in Augusta, GA, home of The Masters. The member said he would love to have my dad come to the tournament. So last month my dad called and said, "Would you have any interest in going to The Masters with me?" Of course I said, "Yes!" and we made plans to go.
We left early in the morning and made the 2 and 1/2 hour drive to Augusta. We had a fun drive talking and laughing. We met his friend easily, even crossing 3 lanes of traffic with no trouble, and got our badges. We decided to try to find a parking spot close to the club. We found a spot almost at the entrance to the club - for free! We walked in amazed at how close to the entrance we got to park. The only dark spot in our day was when Dad had to throw away his pocketknife at the entrance.
As we entered Augusta National, I said to Dad, "This is like Disney World for golfers." It was perfect. Television does not do it justice at all. Not a weed, or a piece of grass out of place anywhere in the club. The azaleas are amazing. We joked that the pine trees are told as they grow, "This is Augusta, your needles must fall straight down under you as to not make a mess," because that is really how they look. It sprinkled rain for the first hour and a half we were there, then the clouds parted and it was beautiful. Just the way they planned it at Augusta, I'm sure.
We decided to see as much of it as we could. We didn't want to miss anything or anyone in the tournament. We walked for awhile then found a spot to sit and watch. That was our routine for the day. We sampled the fabulous Southern food they serve (so economically - sandwiches for $1.50!) and enjoyed every bit of it. (Where else could we both eat and drink for $10?) After lunch we finally settled in the stands at the eleventh green/twelfth tee. We saw over half of the field this way. This is also where we both got sunburned beyond belief! It was so fun to see the guys we watch on tv and cheer on from the living room right there in front of us. We totally got a kick out of watching the greenskeepers come out of the bushes in between groups and blow the needles and leaves off of the green. It was magic coming to life.
After we watched the end of the field come through we made our way to the clubhouse area where we found our souvenirs, enjoyed a peach ice cream sandwich and watched a few players up close on the putting green. I even got to tell T.J. Vogel, who plays for the Florida Gators, "Go Gators! Way to go T.J.!" because we were right next to the golfers! The sun was setting, the wind was softly blowing and we were finally tired.
It was truly the perfect day with my dad. It was one of those days that you almost can't believe went as perfectly as it did. And though we couldn't take any pictures (it's a rule there - no cameras) I know it is a memory that both of us will remember forever. I am so blessed to have my dad - he's an amazing man, but he has always been a dad who loved to be with his girls. He has always wanted us around. So a day like this was icing on the cake for a girl and her dad. The sweetest, fluffiest, prettiest icing ever.