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50 Latitudes (USA) Feature

The 50 Latitudes Feature will showcase Latitudes from a resident of each US state in their own words to illustrate that despite age, sex, location, or occupation, every living being on the planet has a favorite Latitude.  A person's favorite Latitude is not restricted to their home state.

Entries in Illinois (1)

Sunday
Feb202011

Illinois

During my freshman year of college I got a call from my Dad indicating that he had won a lottery with the local golf association to purchase two Master’s tickets and that we were heading to Augusta, GA for the Friday round of the 1998 tournament. 

We entered by the 5th green on an unassuming woodchip path that wound through the thick perimeter bushes surrounding Augusta National.  As I walked the path my heart rate quickened, my palms began sweating, and I found myself taking shorter breaths than usual in anticipation of what lay ahead. 

I literally didn’t believe where I was until I walked onto the course and saw the familiar landscape of the 5th green.  After watching a couple of groups come through, my Dad and I consulted our mental maps of Augusta (we are golf fanatics) and took off towards the par 3 16th

In person, the 16th hole looks and feels smaller and more intimate than I perceived from TV broadcasts.  I felt as if it was something delicate that I wanted to protect akin to a younger sibling. 

Determined to see the rest of the course, we headed towards the clubhouse at the top of the property and refueled with some pimento cheese sandwiches.

My most lasting impression from walking Augusta National in person was the dramatic elevation changes from the clubhouse down to Ray’s creek.  Being from the Midwest, I thought to myself that Augusta would be prime sledding grounds and would give the ski bumps of my area a run for their money. 

Watching my golf idols bomb their tee shots down the steep hill off the 10th tee knowing full well that in a few holes they would be facing the most famous hole in golf gave me butterflies. 

And I was just eating a sandwich! 

After bumping into the eventual champion, Mark O’Meara, behind the 18th green, my Dad and I walked downhill to Amen Corner (the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes). 

At the par 3 12th, we climbed into the grandstands and settled in for an hour or so watching the likes of Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, and Fred Couples attempt the simple, yet terrifying golf journey over Ray’s Creek. 

I also somehow found a pay phone near the 12th to call my dorm mates back in Ann Arbor, MI and rub in the fact that I was at Amen Corner while they were in class.  I couldn’t help myself…

It’s hard to put into words how inspiring Augusta National is in person.  Not only is everything beautifully manicured to the naked eye, but the smell of the Georgia pines and blooming flowers create the ultimate sensory experience for any golfer, botanist, or human being.  In addition, each patron on the grounds knows they are a part of something special that day which creates camaraderie like none other I have experienced to date. 

I can’t wait for my next chance to visit Augusta National with my wife and son so we can make even more memories in a place so dear to my heart.