Monday, April 9, 2012

Augusta National. My first trip.


Having only seen the Augusta National track on TV, I was amazed at how much television makes the course bigger than it really is. The fairway on 18 on my TV looks to be some 90 yards wide. In person, it was far narrower. The 18th green? Not nearly as big as it appears in the coverage.

The beauty? Well, TV doesn't do that justice either. The place is incredible. It is the perfect mix of man and nature. The way that the golf course is manicured, and maintained, is hard to believe. The practice areas are in better condition than the course I grew up playing on. Everything about the golf at Augusta is first class. Everything.

If you follow me on twitter ( then you know I am attached to my iPhone. I tweet a lot. However, phones aren't allowed outside the walls of the media center. Makes it tough to tweet. I was forced to unplug. A little unnerving at first, but after a while, it was rather liberating. It forced me to look around and fall in love with the game of golf all over again. And I was only there for the weekend.

Bubba Watson's win of the Masters is one for the ages. Watson's run of birdies on the back nine created a new set of roars, ones which are reserved for Georgia's favorite sons. And by way of his college days, he is a Georgia son. Bubba is the every man golfer, that the every man wants to be. He swings for the fences, he wears his hair long all over (a rather impressive salad if you enjoy long hair), but most of all, he wears his heart and his emotions on his sleeve. Wide open, for all the world to see, Bubba Watson is exactly who you see on TV. He is fun, funny, a self-proclaimed 33-year-old child. He is a devoted husband, a doting new father of an adopted son, and a man deeply rooted in his faith.

Bubba represents a lot of good in the game of golf, and it hard not to root for him. You don't have to, of course, but you would be forgiven if you got a little choked up watching him after he realized he had won his first major championship.

I had the honor and privilege to see that drama unfold, and I was about 30 feet away from Watson as Charl Schwartzel slipped that green blazer over Watson's shoulders. As a journalist, I got to witness Watson realize his dream.

As a golfer, I got choked up wishing it were me.

Mike Solarte

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