The famed spring fling known as the Masters, annually the most popular televised event in golf, begins April 7. Yet to absorb the complete spectacle of the place, nothing replaces wandering the grounds and soaking up the atmosphere. As an appetizer for those who have never crashed the Augusta National gates, we offer a few crumbs upon which to nibble until the opening round begins.
Leading up to the event, we will be providing inside snapshots detailing what makes the event so special for those who have played in, won or attended the storied little invitational at the private club on Washington Road. Included are intimate places where access is extremely limited, as viewed by the players and past champions themselves.
We begin on high, venerated ground.
|The Crow's Nest, living quarters for the tournament's amateurs, can house up to five golfers. (Getty Images)|
Yeah, it's a bit cramped.
In addition to one bedroom, three tiny rooms are partitioned off and there's a card table in the center, alongside the lone television. They share a single bathroom and sink.
"It's a bit like a college dormitory," said 1978 U.S. Amateur champ John Cook. "It's pretty simple and understated, really."
Not to mention spartan and occasionally crowded, depending on how many amateurs are crammed into the quarters. Woods experienced cabin fever in 1995, when he was in the midst of winning three straight U.S. Amateur crowns. He and Trip Kuehne, the U.S. Am finalist Woods had beaten in 1994, did a little nocturnal walkabout and somehow avoided the dreaded Pinkerton security crew (more about those guys later) during their sojourn.
"We were playing cards most of the night," Woods recalled. "It was myself, Trip, and I think Tim Jackson stayed up there for a few days. We snuck down into the Champions locker room and the whole deal. It was pretty cool -- I mean, that's where you want to be. You want to be in that locker room, somehow, one day. We were talking about that, wouldn't it be cool if one of us won this week? Obviously we weren't even close."
Woods got his wish eventually, obviously, having since won four green jackets. As a teenager in his first stay at the Crow's Nest, goosebumps got the best of him and he didn't sleep much as the tournament approached.
"I got up early on Thursday and I had to see Gene (Sarazen) and Byron (Nelson) and Sam (Snead) tee off," he said. "That was pretty amazing, just the whole experience of my first Masters there in the Crow's Nest, you hear all the roars.
"You're up there trying to rest in the afternoon. You played and you're resting, but you still hear all the roars out there. It made you feel like you never really left -- one, you never left the property, but what you got out of the Masters experience. It's something that you always want to experience as an amateur. You always want to be part of that somehow."
For a video look at the venerable Crow's Nest, where a photo of famed amateur and Masters founder Bobby Jones greets guests at the top of the staircase, visit: Masters.org