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My Day at The Masters

My Day at The Masters
Augusta National
April 2016
Sincere thanks to Flyertalker Madone59 for arranging a Monday ticket from a colleague.   I was skiing with our SFO son and grandkids at Copper Mountain last Friday when I got his text which said "call immediately".   So I did, from the chairlift… on a frigid April 1st in the Rockies.  LOL.   The grandkids left Saturday morning and headed out for DIA just after noon on Sunday.   With a nearly empty parking garage and no line at PreCheck, I was in the B concourse a few minutes later. 
 

Denver-Atlanta
United 1444
A319
2:24p-7:32p (sked)
2:24p-7:05p (actual)
Lunch
 

Five minutes to boarding and no one has lined up to board?  At United?  Never seen this before in my life.

Excellent DEN-based crew but what a piece of garbage is United's A319.  Two rows of First and with a last minute booking, I was relegated to 1F.
Terrible legroom and spotty Wifi and no power.   It was better than Y and Delta which wanted ridiculous 4 figure prices for an F ticket.  Yikes.
 
 

Meal orders were taken by status.  Fortunately, all the 1K and PM elites chose the dopey chicken salad while the rest of us had the delicious hot cilantro chicken  sandwich.  

The good news is we landed at ATL nearly 30 minutes early.  The bad news is that we landed at ATL and in particular to depressing far end of the T concourse.
Wow, talk about a long walk to the main terminal and then to ground transportation and the train to the Rental Car Center.
 

And up to Avis Preferred where my name wasn't on the board.  No worries, the agent offered me an upgrade to a Mustang.  I must be getting old as I declined and went for a regular full size sedan.  

And we're off for the roughly 2 hour 143 mile drive on I-20 to Augusta.  I thought that the projected ETA was a little optimistic but then I learned why.  A 70 MPG speed limit with cars passing me when I was doing 80.  Welcome to Georgia! 

Sure enough, I got to my north Augusta exit at just after 9:30p and headed to my ticket pick-up location, a rented house on a dark street with hard to read street numbers with the instructions "ticket will be under a cushion on a chair by the round table on the porch".   Fortunately, no one called the cops or worse, pulled out shotgun, when I first went to the wrong house.  Yikes.
 
Second time was the charm and ticket in hand, I headed toward downtown to drive by Augusta National and then back to my hotel for the night, the Staybridge Suites.  I was prepared for outrageous prices but was pleasantly surprised when I found a 3-star with 95% satisfaction on hotwire.com for only $165… with free Wifi, free hot breakfast and free parking.  And only 1.5 miles from the main gate at Augusta National.   Only 3-star at best but friendly staff.   Not remotely Mrs. SFO777  luxurious but clean, spacious and comfy. 
 
 

 

I headed down to breakfast at 7:30a.   Ticket brokers even working the elevators.

Not a bad basic spread with lots of serve yourself options.
 
 

And then up to room to pack and head out, ticket in hand.  :)

Tickets anyone??
 

Lots of pros and former stars in town this week including John Daly who very appropriately was staying at Hooters.
My how the mighty have fallen… relegated to hawking merchandise from a Hooters parking lot.
  

 
Didn't see this until I was editing pics but it did seem pretty ironic.  
 

And Fuzzy now apparently in the alcohol business.

Continuing the walk up Washington.
 

I had read the rules and considered hiding my cell phone but in the end, decide to leave it in the car.   Man 6 hours without a cell phone is an eternity.  But they didn't say no iWatches.  LOL.  
 
 

 

Early morning is the biggest crush of people but this place is amazingly well organized and staffed by hundreds, probably thousands of diligent yet friendly security and event staff.  Despite the crowds, it was one of the most pleasant major event experiences I have ever had.    
 

After the security bag check and metal detector screening, I was at Augusta National.  I've traveled a lot and seen many wonderful places all over the world, but there was something about today and Augusta National.  It was an emotional experience.   Simply stunning and beautiful grounds and so much sports history.   Even the tens of thousands of people didn't bother me.  
 
 

First stop was the practice tee.  

Then over to the course passing by the Golf Shop where there must have been 1,000 people waiting to get in.  OK, the place is a license to print money.  

Then the main concessions stand.   Wow, look at those prices.  Are you kidding me.  These look like prices from the 1980's!!
 
 

Cell phones are not allowed but Augusta National has a bank of land line phones with free long distance calls courtesy of AT&T.
 
 

And finally the course itself. 
 

Lots of people taking pics to memorialize the visit.

And famed Butler Cabin, where the green jacket is presented to the new Champion on Sunday afternoon.

Looking down the 10th fairway.

Looking back up the 10th.

And over to Amen Corner.

Time for lunch.  Wow, still can't go over these prices.

Sandwich, chips, water and chocolate chip cookie... all for $6.00 including tax.  Amazing.

Then off to what I think is the best spectator place on the course, the 15th, 16th and 6th.

'

And the most fun of the day, the crowd coaxing players to try water skipping shots on the 16th.  Great fun.

The view from a wonderful vantage point on the downslope of the 6th, with great views of the 15th and 16th greens.

And great people watching as Rory McIlroy walks by on his way to the 6th green, with playing partner Chris Wood.

Now over at the 7th tee.

And back to my vantage point on the 6th downslope.

Time to head back towards the clubhouse.

And the practice tee and green.

Now approaching 2PM and 5-6 miles later, I decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel.   But first another golf shop... with a lot fewer customers now. 

Lots of cashiers eager to ring up sales.

And back down Washington.

And Hooters where John Daly is working the sales counter.

Just a little out of shape. 

Just over 2 hours later approaching ATL airport.

The Avis return level, virtually empty.   I'm thinking lots of Masters rentals this week.

And the train back to the terminal.

Ridiculously long security lines for non-PreCheck pax.

Fortunately, a separate and pretty empty PreCheck security facility.

OK, Delta has a few ATL departures.

More long walking and I'm finally in the T terminal and the Admirals Club.

At T-30 with UA.com showing an on time departure, I headed for T-16.   Unfortunately, UA.com lied and the inbound hadn't even landed.  Nevertheless dozens of clueless pax queued and stood for nearly 45 minutes.  LOL.  Fortunately, I found a seat with a power outlet and waited it out.

Atlanta-Denver
United 710
A320
7:51p-9:15p (sked)
8:45p-9:50p (actual)
April 4, 2016
Dinner

Fortunately, tonight's crew was the same excellent DEN-based crew as the day before. Choice of "shrimp paella" or some type of chicken and rice dish. Paella was excellent although only one shrimp with some chicken and chorizo. Same salad as yesterday's lunch. And the usual yummy chocolate chip cookie.