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.


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