I dont remember the exact date but it will be easy enough to find out because as we walked into our hotel the day before we were suppose to play Jack turned on the TV to hear that Hinkley had shot President Regan. Ill never forget Jacks worried look as he told us they would probably cancel our round because of the shooting.
They didnt and the next morning bright and early we were driving down Magnolia lane. After checking in we went to the driving range to find we had it all to ourselves. Our caddies in their white uniforms gave each of us a bag of balls and then they headed out on the range. They picked up every ball we hit for our warm up.
All three of us were nervous as we reached the first tee, but no one was as nervous as Jack. He was a very good golfer, but this really had his attention. He was first to hit and though it was almost impossible he sliced his first shot of the day so far right that it went out of bounds. He still managed a 79 for the day. As we walked down that first fairway we noticed the caddies had these white bags around their necks. As it turned out they were full of grass seed and each time we hit a shot they filled in the divot with new seed.
My friend Steve Condrey was an excellent golfer. He was a champion as a 15 year old in Modesto, California and had shot many rounds in the 60s while still a teenager. He went head to head a few times with Johnny Miller as a junior, but he never beat him. He was now nearing his forties but still rarely shot over 80. As we marked our balls to putt out on the first hole Steve tossed his ball to his caddie to clean it. The ball rolled right up to the caddies feet and the caddie just stood there looking down at the ball. Steve didnt know what to think, but figured he must have insulted the guy in some way. Turns out it was the caddies first day on the job and he had no idea he was to clean the ball until the other caddies began telling him what to do.
Steve hit the green in two on the Par 5 second hole and had an eagle putt. We had not gotten use to the green speeds yet and he almost putted the ball of the green on his first putt. By the time we got to the Par 3 sixth we had settled down and were having the time of our lives. Jack hit a truly beautiful shot and we watched as the ball disappeared from site. We thought it had gone in and Jack started jumping up and down. We realized as we approached the green that there was a hump in the green and that the ball had merely gone over that hump. It was still a great shot and he made birdie.
It is hard to describe just how fast and tricky those greens are. Its an Alister Mckenzie design like Pasatiempo so we were used to fast and tricky greens but Augustas are exceptional. It was one of the most special days of my life and fulfilled a dream. I have played many of the best courses around the world, but Augusta stands tall among them all and if I could only play one more round in my life there is no where I would rather return to.
Return to all Augusta stories