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Experiencing a visit to the 2013 Masters Tournament


Opportunities to attend “one of golf’s greatest events” do not come along very often. Frank Compiani, a partner in the McGladrey private club industry practice, recently had such an opportunity. What follows is his account of the experience which might be entertaining to the golf fans.

To say that golf is a personal interest might be a bit of an understatement. It is with great pleasure that I have the opportunity to serve clients in the private club industry where I find myself surrounded by beautiful courses and my favorite game. Not only is it an area of my professional life but the sport is a major part of my life both as a player and as a spectator.

Earlier this month, this golf enthusiast had the opportunity to attend one of sport's greatest events. No, this is not a reference to The McGladrey Classic, although that is certainly a great event (scheduled for Nov. 4 -10, 2013 at Sea Island Resort, Georgia). This piece is about my experience at another of golf's greatest events—the 2013 Masters Tournament.

My travel companion and I landed in Atlanta, Georgia on Friday afternoon and then enjoyed a two and a half drive from the airport to the house that would be our accommodations. Saturday began at 8:00 a.m. as we headed to the Magnolia House, which would serve as our base of operations for the next two days. We had breakfast and collected our passes for the tournament before heading back to the house. The Magnolia House was only a short walk from the entrance to Augusta National.

It is impossible to describe adequately the experience of first entering Augusta National, walking to the first tee and looking out over such a magnificent course. After walking up a fairly steep incline to the first tee, one has a vantage point of many of the 18 holes on the vastly expansive course. The plan for the first day was to start from the back, the 18th hole, and walk the course from back to front to gain a perspective of the course and enjoy its beauty before too many other spectators arrived. After walking most of the course, we settled in for a while at one of its prettiest areas, Amen Corner. From where we sat, we could see golfers finish on the 11th green, the entire short par 3 #12 (Golden Bell), and then watch the golfers tee off on #13 (Azalea).

While we waited and waited and waited for Tianlang Guan, the eighth grader from China, to make his way to #11(White Dogwood), we had a conversation with several other attendees who were sitting alongside us at Amen Corner. Everyone at the tournament was extremely friendly and polite. It was there where we met someone who felt fortunate to attend in someone else's absence. This individual was able to secure a ticket to the Masters through what he described as the "my sister-in-law fortunately broke her ankle" route. Although we did not determine how this "fortunate" accident occurred, it was humorous to hear how this individual got to the Masters!

After spending some time at Amen Corner, we moved on to the green at fourth hole (Flowering Crab Apple), which is the long, about a 240-yard, par 3. We watched several groups come through, including Freddie Couples. Always a difficult hole, the pin placement on Saturday behind the sand trap on the right made it especially difficult. We saw several bogies and only one birdie while we were there. Afterward, we meandered around the course for awhile, followed Bubba Watson for a couple of holes, and then made our way up to #18 (Holly). One of the perks of being with the PGA TOUR Club, our host, is that they set up chairs at a few locations around the course including the 18th green, so we settled in on the 18th in the sixth row and watched the last couple of hours on Saturday sitting comfortably at the 18th green.

As a side note, since there were an odd number of players in the tournament after the cut, a member of Augusta National gets to play with the pro. The pairing sheet shows the person as Marker. This is done to allow the pro to play at a normal pace during the Saturday and Sunday round. The Marker played with Bubba Watson on Saturday and Keegan Bradley on Sunday. As we followed Keegan Bradley on Sunday morning, we happened to meet a couple whose son was the caddy for the Marker. This year's Marker was an excellent player whose drives kept pace with those of Bubba and Keegan and we even saw him birdie a couple of holes.

As another side note, the food at the event was excellent and inexpensive. On Saturday, three of us purchased sandwiches and drinks for $14! I think I indulged in six egg salad sandwiches at $1.50 each. We also observed that nearly everything at this event is permanent. For example, all restroom facilities are permanent structures that are cleaned constantly throughout the tournament.

Sunday was another early start, leaving for the Magnolia House at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast and then out to Augusta National. Since we now had some familiarity with the course, we walked around most of the morning, following Keegan Bradley from Jupiter Florida; Phil Mickelson (big crowd); Dustin Johnson; and Team McGladrey's Zach Johnson. We went up to the 18th green relatively early as we wanted to secure our seats in the fourth row before anyone else. The rain started around 2:30 p.m. and at first it was just a light drizzle that started and stopped. We were hoping that the weather would clear but it eventually worsened and, from about 4:00 p.m. on, a very steady rain ensued.

By way of another observation, there are not any Marshalls at the Masters to tell spectators to be quiet or display the typical "QUIET" signs. At the Masters, the audience just knows to quiet itself. When a player is preparing to putt, all one can hear is the chirping of birds or, as it turned out late on Sunday, the rain falling

Our good fortune continued as we were in perfect position on the 18th tee for the finish—just four rows back from where photographers were situated on the right side of the green. We could see the approach shot and all of the putts very clearly (except for those instances when an umbrella was erected in the first row).

Umbrellas were part of the story late on Sunday. Thousands of them must have been sold. When the scores were posted to the manual scoreboard (yes, only manual scoreboards; no electronic ones), and we could see that the match was getting close and was then tied, the chants began. "Put them down! Put them down!" Whenever someone would lower an umbrella, cheers that were as exuberant as the roar of a birdie putt erupted.

Finally, for the last three or four groups, umbrellas were down and we were right there when Adam Scott made what looked like a 12 to 15 foot birdie putt to go ahead by one stroke. At that point, I thought it was over as there were very few birdies on the 18th hole that day and the conditions were now pretty ugly. Just a couple moments later, Angel Cabrera hit the best approach shot of the day which landed only two or three feet from the hole. As we all know now, he made the putt and, after a two-hole playoff, Adam Scott won the 2013 Masters.

Written words really do not do justice to the experience of attending the Masters Tournament. I congratulate the PGA TOUR on another outstanding event as well as this year's winner, Adam Scott.