Surprise Birthday at Augusta

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I am a lawyer in Milwaukee and played Augusta on April 24, 2005. It was my brother's birthday and I was asked to be the 'fourth' as part of a surprise birthday present for him, given by an Augusta member. I flew to Atlanta on the 23rd, where my brother lives, stayed at a local hotel, and met another member of the foursome at 6 am on the 24th, outside the hotel. I put my bags in the guy's trunk and thought we would then drive to my brother's house, to surprise him. Instead, I was taken to a local Starbucks, told to leave my clubs behind the store and was taken to a table. I was then given a newspaper, was told to hold it in front of my face and to wait. The player returned with my brother about fifteen minutes later and they sat at the next table. He then proceeded to tell my brother that the local course they had signed up to play was closed because of some outing but wouldn't it be great to play Augusta! My brother asked how, since his friend was not a member. The friend said not to worry, he had a friend who was a member, but it would be better if they had a fourth. The friend then called out to me, 'Hey, you with the paper in front of your face. You want to play Augusta?' That was my clue. I lowered the paper and shouted, 'Count me in!' My brother, not knowing I was even in Atlanta, almost fell off his chair. That's how the day started.
 
The three of us drove to Augusta, and waited in the parking lot across from Magnolia Lane for the member to arrive in his car. We then followed the member onto the grounds. We had breakfast and then were able to go inside the Eisenhower cabin. That was followed by a visit to the driving range. After hitting balls for a while I noticed a person standing behind me. He was dressed in white coveralls with a green hat. My caddy! He just stood there, watching me. Very intimidating, to say the least.
 
The day was cold and windy. I didn't care. I was in heaven. I had the following goals: break 100 (I'm a 12 handicap) and par 12, 13 and 15. I shot an 87, parred 12 and 13 but put my drive into the woods on 15 and got a double bogey. I brought my camera along and my caddy, a wonderful, friendly young man, carried it throughout the round. Photos were taken as I walked across Hogan's Bridge and whenever we arrived at any any other historical locations. The Azaleas were still in bloom.
 
There are two tees at Augusta on each hole, one for members and the other for the Master's tournament. I recall walking off the difference before we teed off on 18. It was 90 yards! Even with that advantage I was only able to get to the fairway bunker on the left of the fairway with my drive.
 
We didn't stay for dinner and we had to precede the member off the grounds. All the way back to Atlanta I remained mostly quiet in the back seat. I kept thinking that if given the opportunity to do anything related to sports, what would it be? Play center field for one inning at Yankee Stadium? Drive a lap during the Indianapolis 500? Play quarterback during one series for the Packers? No. It was doing what I had just done.
 
-James
 
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