Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday Augusta Day 1

Today was the first day of the Masters!!! We knew we had to get up early to get a good parking spot and to raid the the golf shop. We left the house around 6 am and we arrived at the golf course at 6:15 am. We got a great parking spot, but we were not quite sure what to do next. We had an hour before the gates opened, and yet there were still people lining up at the front gate to make sure they got a good spot on the first tee. The front gates opened at 6:30 am, which we were not expecting, so we got out of the car and lined up at the security gate, where they checked everyone’s bags then you walked through a metal detector and had your badge scanned to make sure that it was not a fake ticket. We waited at the security gate until 7 am, and once we got through that line we had to wait at the third and final gate, which would allow us onto the golf course. There were several different gates you could choose to line up at depending on where you wanted to go. We wanted to go to the first tee so we could watch Arnold Palmer take the first shot of the tournament. As we waited at the gate we were told that no one was allowed onto the course to put their chairs down until the gates opened, including members, so everyone would have a fair chance to put their chair where they wanted. Camera crews began to set up in front of the gates to capture the mad rush onto the course, as well as many photographers. Once the gates opened everyone started running with their chairs to hole one. I was worried that we would not get a good spot, but I found one in the front row right where Arnold Palmer teed off. Once it was time for the ceremony to begin they announced Arnold Palmers name and he walked from the putting green to the tee box, and you could see a small camera on a crane following him through the crowd. The morning started off nicely, it was warm and there were not too many clouds in the sky. But, once it was time for the players to tee off the weather started to change. It became cold and the fog rolled in and as a result, there was a weather delay for about 45 minutes. Once the fog cleared it began to heat up again and it turned into a beautiful warm sunny day. Our seats turned out to be better than we thought. Our chairs were right in front of the table that had pin location sheets, the box full of tees, ball markers, and pencils. Every player and caddied stopped at the table and shook the hands of the members/announcers that were standing by the table. Our seats were so close to the players that you wanted to reach out and touch them or just talk to them. As each player and caddie walked onto the first hole everyone stood up from their chairs and cheered and every player and caddie smiled to the crowd and were very talkative, except Tiger Woods. When he waked in he had a serious face, shook the hands of the members, grabbed the pin placement sheet and walked off to where his caddie was and was very focused until he teed off. Every time we saw Tiger he was very focused and did not smile or interact with the crowd and just walked alone, without his caddie, down the fairway. We stayed on the first tee box until everyone teed off, then placed our chairs on the 18th green so at the end of the day we could sit and watch all of the players coming in. We went to the main entrance concession stand to buy lunch and get some drinks and every cup, water bottle, sandwich wrapper, cookie bag, etc. had The Masters written on it as well as the Augusta National Logo. It was amazing to see how organized and fast every line went. Every one that was part of the staff was very nice and very attentive. Every place you went including the bathrooms were very clean and had an excessive amount of staff, which is why in my mind the concessions stands and shops were so successful in creating a great experience for the fans. Every line went really fast and there were tons of check stands, the racks for food were always stocked with what you needed and if it was not there then someone would bring what you needed within minutes. Everything was very organized and it if wasn’t, then I can guarantee they would not have sold as much as they did. After we ate we walked around and followed a few players and made our way back to our chairs on the 18th green and stayed their until the majority of the players came in. Due to the weather delay there were still three groups out on the course with approximately 45 minutes of day light left. We left before they finished, but they decided to finish their round before dark, instead of having an early morning round the next day.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Par 3 Challenge

Today was the Par 3 challenge, which meant that the crowds would be larger than the previous day, which also meant we would have to get up early to get a good parking spot. We arrived outside of Augusta National at 6:30 am and got onto the course around 7:30 am. We placed our chairs on hole 16, which I overheard was the place to be, and we later found out the reason why. There is a hill on the side of hole sixteen along the water, which allows you to watch players on the 15th green, the sixth green, and teeing off on the 17th tee. Also, during practice rounds players skip their golf ball over the lake on the par 3 which is really fun to watch. The crowd and the players really get into it and it is something you will never forget. As we sat there I noticed Momoko Ueda was sitting a few chairs a way from me. She was surrounded by five people , the Japanese press, and she was just enjoying the fabulous golf and sunshine. Eventually I wandered over to her and asked her if I could take a picture with her and she was really nice and said yes.

Once noon rolled around we moved over to the second course of Augusta National, which is a nine hole course and consists of every hole being a par 3. We placed our chairs on hole 7 and sat there practically until sundown, which was when the tournament was over. We saw one hole-in-one by Fred Couples, and Phil, Stewart Appleby, and KJ Choi with their children, as well a few legends of golf. Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus played the Par 3 Challenge together, which made for a lot of great pictures and great golf.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Welcome to Atlanta!

Yesterday we flew out of San Francisco to our first stop Atlanta, Georgia. The flight was not as long as I thought it would be. I asked my boss to give me something to work on so I had something to do on the long flight, and he gave me the task of learning Adobe InDesign and learn how to create a brochure. I searched youtube for some tutorials and downloaded them through a great new website called Zamzar , which my co-worker, I call her the Mac Queen, told me about. So, the plane took off and after about an hour I started up my MacBook Pro and attempted to figure out InDesign. I searched through the tutorial to try and figure out how to add plain text, and for whatever reason when I opened up the tutorials in quicktime the resolution wasn’t so great and it just got worse when I tried to make the screen bigger, set-back number 1. It took me a while to find the right tutorial, and once I did the video was so blurry that I couldn’t see which buttons he was pressing to get what I wanted, I could only hear him. Set-back number 2. Once I figured out the correct buttons, the result was not what it was supposed to be. I eventually figures out how to create text, change the font and color, and how to import pictures. Before I knew it the stewardess was on the intercom saying that we should be landing shortly in Atlanta, so my fabulous plan of trying to create a simple brochure on the airplane did not exactly happen. But, I learned how to add text and a picture and I think that is a pretty good start. Hopefully I will have some more down time to get some work done and enjoy the trip.

Augusta, here we come!
After the plane landed we rented a car and drove about 45 minutes to the outskirts of Atlanta to visit my father’s cousin and her husband who I have never met before. To be in the presence of a retired Air Force Coronal, who was a graduate of West Point and served as an aid in the White House under President Eisenhower, was a great experience. We practically stayed up until midnight listening to stories of his time at West Point and the White House, as well as looking at albums of old pictures of his wife’s family and playing with their cat Golda. I left this morning with a greater respect for the men and women in uniform and a higher level of understanding of my family history. We planned on leaving their house between 9 am and 10 am the next morning, but the company was so great that we did not end up leaving until 11:30 am.

The two lane highway to Augusta was full of trucks and yet the traffic was not too bad and the two hour drive went smoothly. We arrived at the condo, un-packed and went to eat at the restaurant that is famous for seeing and being seen. The walls of T-bonz were lined with pictures of Tiger and Phill as well as autographed flags and t-shirts. The food on the other hand was not up to par, but I guess the fact that all of the people who come from Augusta National, as well as the players and caddies, hang out there for drinks and some food after each round makes up for it. After we ate, when drove to the golf course and walked up to the entrance of Augusta National and stood in line at the merchandise trailer and bought a few things to start off the memorabilia train. We drove to downtown Augusta expecting to find some exciting things, but were sadly disappointed that most of the stores were closed. So, we just drove through and circled back to the house and watched all of the fans coming out of the various gates as well as all of the golf manufacturer's trailers, and unofficial merchandise stands. We took the rest of the day off and relaxed at the house and watched one of our favorite shows dancing with the stars and went to bed.

Journey to Augusta

A few months a go we were greatly given the opportunity to go to Augusta and experience a full week of The Masters along with accommodations. This trip has been something my family has been planning for a few months, but it has not really hit me until today while I was trying to get everything organized at the office so there were no loose ends while I was away. I have been reading the rules over and over about what days I can take pictures and the what the autograph policy entails. So far I have found that you can take pictures only on practice-round days (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) and autographs are prohibited on grounds at all times, except for the parking lot. Thankfully I do not have to stand in line next to the scorecard tent to get autographs from the players and I can just enjoy the amazing golf as well as the beautiful golf course. I plan on soaking in every moment as well as taking as many pictures as I can with out bothering to many people. I will post all of the pictures and keep you updated on my experience.