19th Hole

Greg Ellis
Great Golf Academy
Goodyear, AZ

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Twenty-Five Years Have Passed

April signals the Masters Week and there is no larger week in golf or more beautiful than the setting at Augusta National. From the dogwoods to the azaleas to the tall pines lining the fairways, there is no finer piece of countryside than this. Early in my professional career, 25 years ago, I had just become a new member of the PGA of America. And, one of the privileges with membership is being able to attend the Masters. I drove down to Augusta and watched the practice rounds. Since the players are the only people that can drive in on Magnolia Lane, I pulled into the parking lot and hopped the fence to walk up Magnolia Lane. What a sight! The huge Magnolia trees that canopy over the drive in from Washington Avenue sent chills through me. At the end of Magnolia Lane is the historic roundabout with the Masters logo designed in yellow flowers with the Augusta National Flagstick. I became a typical tourist and had someone take my picture beside it.  Next stop was the practice area, where I watched Jack Nicklaus warming up for his practice round. I never imagined that I was witnessing the beginning of the greatest week in the history of the Masters. I followed Mr. Nicklaus the entire practice round. He knows every blade of grass on the golf course. He knows where and where not to hit it. He knows every break in every green. Additionally, who knew that 30 days later I would play a round of golf with the 1986 Masters Champion.

The roars for great golf shots that echoed through the golf course were deafening. The unimaginable happened. Jack Nicklaus charged to his sixth Masters victory. The golf course has since been lengthened and the roars of 25 years ago seemed to have faded.  Rumor has it that we will hear roars again at this Masters.

So, while you are watching the most watched golf event in the world, imagine yourself walking those rolling fairways where I walked 25 years ago and you will know why this is the Greatest Week of Golf. The only round of golf at Augusta that can beat my walk back then, will be the day I get to play there.