On the Bench: Spring is in the air and so is the Masters

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When you think of a sporting event, you probably think of the World Series, the Super Bowl, the World Cup, March Madness or even the College Football Playoffs. But to me the greatest event of them all is the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia. I admit I have a personal connection to this special tournament because my grandfather played in it twice and I attended the tournament in 2012 and 2014. The Masters is one of a kind. It is an international test of skill, but more importantly, it’s all about tradition. Nothing ever changes about the Masters except the participants.

From the time my brother and I were old enough to swing a golf club, watching the Masters has been an emotional high for us. We grew up on tales of glory and watching old highlights of Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. So when I got the opportunity to attend in 2012, it was a dream come true. I literally counted the days until I left for Augusta.

Not only did I watch the best golfers in the world, I was treated to the true traditions of the Masters. In route to the parking lot for spectators, we had the pleasure of driving past one of the greatest traditions of the tournament, Magnolia Lane. The trees were almost white with fragrant magnolias, a site that has greeted golfers since 1934.

Tradition is never lost in the Masters. Every year in April, Augusta National Golf Club is alive with flowers, pristine greens, and hundreds of reporters. I felt like I was in golf heaven. I was walking along the same fairway that some of the greatest golfers in the world have passed through.

Although my grandfather passed away before I was born, I could visualize myself walking beside him on the first tee. The memories my father and my aunt have shared were vivid reminders of what an honor it was for me to be there. The sights and sounds must have been the same for him as they were for me. The landscape has not changed and neither has the enthusiasm of the crowds. Fans still roar for great shots and still root for their favorite players. The Masters is a great sporting event with a good dose of history.

The Masters is truly the greatest sporting event on Earth. Players from 23 countries have the distinct honor of being invited to play in this tournament. I was there when Tiger Woods went out early, but it made no difference to his fans. I was hoping to take a picture with him, but there was no way to battle the crowds around him. However, I did see Bubba Watson, the eventual winner.

I am so amped up that it is spring again, and the golf season officially starts with Masters. I am a fool for magnolias and great golf.

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