Augusta National ……… an outdoor cathedral!

The back-breaking 12th hole

The 76th Masters tournament is underway. You might think this blog is aimed at golfers. You couldn’t be more wrong. If you have never seen Augusta National Golf Course, either in person or on TV, you are the poorer for it. This is one of the most beautiful places anywhere and probably the most venerated golf course in the world. Even if you’re not a golfer but like camellias, dogwoods, and azaleas, soaring pines, sprawling oaks, immaculately manicured grasses and pristine ponds and creeks, this is your Mecca.

I could go on about how the grounds inspire, but it’s more than that. It’s also about the unique reverence afforded the event. The ceremonial opening as legends from the past drive off the first tee, the hushed crowds as they anticipate a critical moment, the deafening roar reporting a shot well-played, the collective groan as a gallery favorite suddenly falls out of contention, the wave of respectful applause as the “gladiators” walk up the 18th fairway.

No other sport is more individual. There’s no opponent trying to make you miss or overpower you. It’s you against your own psyche. Nerves of steel are prerequisite. Golf is nothing if not a microcosm of life. The heady moments, the stark disappointments, the confidence lost and then found again, the thrill of accomplishment and the challenge of defeat. It can be humbling, but its lessons can forge strong character.

I have a good friend who is not a golfer. He dabbled in it but it wasn’t his thing like his passion for fishing. He takes fishing trips to some of the most awe inspiring vistas in the west and around the world. Do you want to know the top item on his “bucket list”? You guessed it. Augusta.

I have had the good fortune of attending the Masters tournament twice. This is no mean feat. The tickets for any round, let alone allĀ  four rounds of the competition, are the toughest to come by in sports. Most are bequeathed and the waiting list for those few that are available is longer than the average person’s life expectancy. Lengthy, expensive lawsuits have been litigated over season tickets to the Masters.

But I ramble. If you’re reading this, you’re missing the Masters. Sorry, my bad.

The most beautiful par 5 in golf; the 13th at Augusta.