I have an extra ticket to The Masters. Would you like to go?
Even though we’ve been the best-of-friends for a long time, I’m not sure how to respond.
If work is too busy, or it doesn’t work for your schedule…I understand. But I would love to have you out there. If you need to think about it, just let me know.
I didn’t need to think about it. “I would love to go. Thank You Dan Man!”
As Phil Mickelson described, The Masters experience is mystical—even mythical. It truly is a tradition unlike any other. There are four primary factors that make it transcendent: The Setting. The Traditions. The Feelings. The People. The Masters is a blueprint of how to create meaningful memories.
The Setting (The Course).
That plot of land, in Augusta, Georgia, was destined to exemplify one thing: The Perfect Golf Course. Some clubs have an iconic stretch of holes, or a few memorable features. Every aspect of Augusta National is grand.
The magic starts from the first glance down Magnolia Lane, extending to the iconic Clubhouse. There’s a reason people wait all day just to have their picture taken there. The practice facility, the surrounding landscape, the Par 3 Course, and even the concession stands are picturesque. It is the Disneyland of Golf! Immense care is taken with every flower, dogwood, pine tree, and blade of grass on the entire property. Not to mention the course itself…
I might lose scope of this article if I gave my hole-by-hole observations, even though I really want to mention the vast elevation changes, the rolling mounds in the fairway the size of submarines, and the utter perfection of the undulated greens! However, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the beauty and peace of Amen Corner.
Amen corner was remarkable! The elevation drop to get to that part of the course is breath-taking. You arrive at the bottom of a gulley and experience the most picturesque vista imaginable. I always thought Amen Corner was named such because people were praying to get through without too much damage to their scorecard! I now realize it’s something else entirely. Amen corner is hallowed.
Augusta National is a special setting. Beautiful environments create the backdrop for meaningful memories.
Butler Cabin. The Green Jacket. Pimento Sandwiches. White Jumpsuits. Green Hats. The rituals of The Masters create a tangible spirit. From skipping a golf ball onto the green at #16, to a moment of silence for the late Arnold Palmer, traditions enhance and elevate the experience for all who participate. The Masters is a culmination of meaningful ceremonies.
Cell phones are prohibited on the grounds. Like most people, I wanted to take pictures of everything. I wanted to text and tweet about everything! I didn’t have that option. I am grateful I didn’t. After the initial withdrawal phase, I more fully appreciated the subtle nuances of Augusta National. I was fully in the moment. Distractions rob joy.
Traditions establish values and create culture. They preserve the past and enrich the present. The traditions are as integral a part of the experience as the course is. The rest of the experience was not observed…it was felt.
The combination of setting and tradition led to an immensely pleasant emotional experience. Being there confirmed to me that the two most rewarding feelings in life are Love and Gratitude. I felt both frequently. They were felt around every corner (especially one!).
I felt immense love and gratitude for Danny and his family, who have always treated me like a member of their own. I felt love and gratitude to my father and brother, who shared in the experience with me. It wouldn’t have been the same without them. I felt love and gratitude to experience a bucket-list item that was everything I could have hoped it would be (and maybe even more!).
The other pronounced feeling experienced at The Masters was Reverence. It wasn’t forced. It was naturally-occurring. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe because of the history? Maybe it’s proper golf-etiquette? Maybe it’s a feeling that comes from participating in something greater than yourself? Whatever it is, it’s there for a reason… even if it isn’t entirely understood.
Gratitude, love, and reverence can all be experienced in solitude. However, they are amplified when you are sharing with others.
There were two things I was most looking forward to: Seeing the course, and seeing my great friend play it. I was immediately wowed by how vast and gorgeous the stage was! However, observing Danny go to work/play on it brought it all to life!
On the first day of competition, the wind was brutal. After impressively battling the swirling winds for most of the day, Danny walked to the #12 tee box—the best golf hole ever created. Suddenly, there was a noticeable calm in the breeze. His entire family sat next to one another. They supportively and lovingly looked on. He pulled out his eight iron. Time seemed to stand still. It felt a little eerie. He struck one of the most beautiful shots I’ve seen him hit. It started at the right edge of the bunker. The ball drew slightly toward the pin. It was in slow motion. The ball landed about six feet past the pin and spun back toward the hole. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if it went in. Everyone erupted! It ended up four inches from the hole. Danny tapped it in for birdie.
There was a stillness in that moment. Maybe it was a combination of all four magical features: The Beautiful Setting, The Traditional Hole at Amen Corner, The Inundation of Emotions, and The Most Meaningful Relationships. As his family gave high fives and hugged, along with all the other patrons, I was reminded in that moment that life is not a solo ordeal! The hugs and happiness for Danny meant more than the shot itself!
Nobody gets to Augusta National by themselves (myself included). They get there with hundreds, if not thousands, of loved ones urging them on. We all have someone to cheer for. We all have someone cheering us on.
I have often wondered why people make pilgrimages to Holy Lands. Now, I think I understand it better. Some places just make it easier to feel alive! However, location is only part of the magic. To create a meaningful experience, follow the blueprint of The Masters: Find a good location, establish memorable traditions, feel the emotions (limit distractions), and share with the people most important to you.
The Masters, with its perfect course and longstanding traditions, is magnificent. The emotions evoked are almost indescribable. However, relationships are what stand above everything—they are most sublime. I’m not alone in this ranking. You are probably the same. Tears filled the eyes of Jack Nicklaus as he remembered his friend. You may have a similar experience when you think of yours.
The true tradition of The Masters (and of life) seems to be connection—with the past, the environment, the course, the game, yourself, and the people you are sharing your life with.