[Editor’s Note: Continuing to update the blog for our South Carolina trip earlier this month – a few days left and then we’re back to new trips!]
Today was extra special – introducing Frank to a long-time Spring tradition of visiting the Augusta National Golf Club, home to the world famous Masters.
I grew up about 15 miles from Augusta, so this was just our local golf tournament. Sure, we knew it was on TV and sometimes celebrities even came. But to us, it was just the time of year when our local schools had Spring Break, men wore green jackets to church on Sunday, and we all piled in the car to go to the practice rounds. I remember my sister and I following Seve Ballesteros (my all-time favorite) around hole after hole and even getting his autograph.
Nowadays, the Masters has grown to an international affair and tickets are super hard to come by. My parents were lucky enough to 4 snag tickets to the Tuesday practice rounds and invited us down.
Skipping on the 16th Hole
Whether or not you are a golf fan, everyone agrees that the Augusta National is just beautiful. When you step through the gates, you know you are somewhere special. No cell phones are allowed at all – you have to check them at the gate if you bring one. And everyone talks in hushed tones. This is where golf history is made.
We walked from hole to hole and finally parked ourselves on our favorite – Hole 16. We love this hole because it has a long stretch of water between the tee and hole. On practice round days, it is a tradition that the golfers “skip” the ball across. The crowd roars if someone skips multiple times and the ball still makes it to the green. One foursome even hit their balls all at the same time. It is a fun hole.
The 16th Hole Turtle
Another highlight on 16 is to watch the turtles. Several live in the pond and sun themselves on the side, oblivious to the fact that an internationally famous tournament is going on around them.
This year, though, a little turtle decided to check things out. He crawled up the embankment, seemed to look both ways, and then crept hesitantly toward the big (to him) white ball that had landed with a thud right beside him. We all held our breath.
A few seconds later, a gallery guard approached. The turtle took one look at the man, seemed to recognize him, abruptly turned around, and hightailed it back toward the water as the crowd cheered it on. I have never seen a turtle move so fast! He didn’t make it, and the guard picked him up and helped him back in the water. It looked like this “contest” between the two has happened before.
All afternoon, the talk was not of Jordan Speith, Phil Mickelson, or Bubba Watson – but the little turtle on the 16th Hole at Augusta.