Many weeks ago, Myrta, my husband's sister, informed us that we'd won the Lottery!
No, not that Lottery where you win millions of dollars. Instead we'd won the golf lottery--4 tickets to the Masters, the biggest event in golf, played at the most beautiful course in golf in Augusta, Georgia. Now I know next to nothing about golf--I can't tell a birdie from a bogey--but I had caught bits of the Masters on TV, so I know it's beautiful: All those acres of the greenest grass and those clusters of gorgeous azaleas.
My husband, Ed, and I flew from our place near LAX to Washington DC to South Carolina, to join Myrta and her husband, Dave. We had tickets for Wednesday for the practice round, which the 4 of us agreed was even better than tournament day. Because practice day would be more relaxed, less crowded, we'd be able to see more,
On Wednesday morning we drove out of Myrta and Dave's driveway at 6 am to make it Augusta by 9 AM. We'd packed raincoats because of weather alerts--rains, 2" hail, thunderstorms, lightning, even tornados. In spite of the alarming weather reports, we were in high spirits. We figured we'd get to see most of the practice round because rain wasn't predicted until the afternoon,
Along with thousands of others--most carrying a umbrella--we passed through the Masters-TSA screening devices around 9:30--no cell phones, no large bags--and marveled at how well organized everything was. But because of the recent cold spell, the clumps of pink azaleas, at least the ones near the North entrance, looked freshly planted from a nursery.
Everywhere there were serious Weather Warning signs. The signs read:
Suspension of play will be signaled by the sounding of an air horn or similar alert. You should seek shelter immediately upon hearing the alert.
The four of us made it past the main clubhouse, the concession stand where a hundred people waited for coffee, and to the first tee. We walked to the second green, and across to the ninth. We were as happy as little kids allowed into a super-special event at the circus, and that's exactly when the horn sounded! At 10:00 the horn blared with an announcement for everyone to evacuate! So we turned around and started out, as did tens of thousands of other disappointed fans. No one had a choice. As we were walking out, I said, I wonder if the organizers over-reacted? The weather report said the rain isn't supposed to start until 2:15. We'd flown clear across the country to attend the Masters, and we'd gotten to see exactly 30 minutes?
I was also surprised at how orderly, mannerly, courteous, quiet and civilized the evacuation was. No one said, Hell, no! I won't go! I bought my expensive ticket and I'm staying! You can drag me out. And just as we made our way back to our car, it started raining.
On our way to our next destination--Nashville--the rains were pounding down so hard it was creating almost impossible driving conditions. The car directly in front of us had the best safety trick in such low visibility: he was driving the freeway with his emergency red lights flashing, and then we copied him. Later, we weren't surprised to learn there had been almost 2 inches of rain in Augusta that afternoon.
I walked on the fabled greens at Augusta, and though I still know next to nothing about golf, I get golf bragging rights because I can say, I was at the Masters. If only for 30 minutes.