Best Augusta Story from a Pastor

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1987-1990 I served as pastor of Central Christian Church in Augusta. We had several members of our congregation who worked at Augusta National. I, being an avid golfer, mentioned one evening during a home visit to one of those employees, 'I would sure love to see the clubhouse and course someday if there is an 'off season' opportunity.' Months went by and I had forgotten the casual, not so serious remark. One April evening after a Sunday night service his son came up to me and said, 'Dad wants to know if May 28 will be OK? For what?' I replied. 'To play the Augusta National,' he said. 'I'm sure it will!' I immediately responded. I had only asked to see the course never dreaming that I could play it.
 
One lady who worked in our church office, an Augusta native, said when hearing of my blessing, 'If I die don't worry about it.' Guess what else happens on May 28? My wedding anniversary. God Bless my wife. She was very understanding as I not only played that year but the next as well, both on the same date. Needless to say we went out to a very nice place for dinner, even a B&B, but after playing the par 3 all morning and the big course in the afternoon, I was exhausted. Lastly, the first year I was there, the friend who had invited me (during employees week), took me on a tour of the clubhouse. When I went upstairs in the champions locker room I saw a phone in the corner, I had to call someone, so I called my father, and said, 'Youre not going to believe where I'm calling from.'
 
Best of all I thoroughly enjoyed both rounds. Shot 86 the first time, and 77 the second (playing the championship tees on the backside). The highlight was reaching #15 in two and 2 putting for birdie after an approach at 14 rolled 2 feet from the whole--birdie birdie. Sadly I bogied 18 both times, so finished on a low note, but pared #12 both years. I thought #5 and #11 were the hardest holes on the course.
 
The par 3 is a great experience. The 2nd year a man in my foursome had a local caddy. He helped all of us read putts. On the last hole I had the longest downhill putt possible, with the pin right by the water. My fear was putting it in the water so I asked one of my foursome to stand behind the hole and catch the ball before it rolled in the water. I was not about to putt a ball in the water! The caddy (nicknamed 'Bull'), said 'let it die right here', and pointed to a spot 10 ft left and 20 feet above the hole. Amazingly I did, and watched with unbelief as the ball picked up speed and turned toward the hole. All the time Bull was commanding the ball, 'slide for me now, slide for me now.' It obeyed and my 60 foot put disappeared in the cup.
 
- Pastor Stephenson, Deltona, FL
 
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