It’s mid-April, and we’ve been experiencing life indoors for a month. Spring is here and golf fans across the world agree that today, should mark the true beginning of spring. That’s because, if not for COVID-19, the first round of the legendary golf tournament, The Masters, would have begun this morning.
The Masters is played on one of the most beautiful and exclusive golf courses in the world—Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The tournament is the first of four major golf championship tournaments to take place each year, and it has the most tradition of them all. The demand for tickets to The Masters is extreme.
Some people like TDS’ Network Consultant Adam Enfield have tried their hand in the lottery for 10-plus years but he’s never “won.” Others like TDS’ Senior Warehouse Technician Johnny Olivas has never attended the Masters, but he did receive a golf towel when his godfather brought him back one from the course’s pro shop.
A handful of TDS employees, however, have been lucky enough to attend and stroll the legendary grounds of Augusta. TDS Sales Engineer John Grigsby has won practice round tickets in the lottery in both 2014 and 2017.
“I never saw a single weed on the grounds either of those years,” laughed John. “And I looked.”
Manager of State Government Affairs Thomas McCabe, Associate Manager of Project Implementation David Butterfield, Customer Sales Team Member Vicki Casey, and Customer Experience Specialist Brett Barkelar are other TDS employees who have been fortunate enough to experience practice rounds at Augusta through personal connections or lottery wins.
TDS’ Coordinator of Lifeline Compliance and Reporting Kristin Statz is among the most recent people in the company to attend The Masters Tournament. A year ago, she and her husband, Dan, thoroughly enjoyed roaming the legendary tree and flower themed holes of Augusta National Golf Course.
“While he didn’t believe it at first, Dan was finally rewarded for over 10 years of dedicated lottery submissions with two tickets to Sunday’s championship round last year,” said Kristin. “And although he had a ton of friends to choose from, I was honored when he chose me to accompany him on what was a lifelong dream.”
Long ago, Augusta used to be a plant nursery, which is why each hole on the course is named after the tree or plant that make that hole unique. Although Kristin’s desire to see the beautiful flowers for which the course is known, said a wet spring last year hampered the blooming flowers.
Even in the rain, there was still plenty of golf legends to see. For starters, Kristin was there to see Tiger Woods, perhaps the greatest golfer of all time, win his first major championship in 12 years. At one point, she and her husband were six feet away from him. They also got to see how seriously spectators took the event. While Kristin and Dan spent over $900 on clothing items and souvenirs for themselves and family members, they saw others dropping thousands of dollars at the pro shop. They even saw people picking up the plastic drink cups from the concession stands as souvenirs.
“Just being there to be a part of the legacy that is the Masters is something I’ll never forget,” said Kristin. “Despite the rain, the beauty of the course was truly impeccable. I can’t wait for the opportunity to return one day, even for a practice round, and see those flowers in full bloom!”
Finally, TDS’ Russell Harper, manager of OSP Engineering and Construction, grew up in Augusta and went to the tournament every year when he was young. “My Dad’s business partner had badges and he’d always let us use them one day during the event. When I was in high school, I worked at the tournament. I carried spare lenses for a photographer and had my own press badge. The course is every bit as beautiful as they say it is, and the tournament is an amazing event.”
In collaboration with the leading organizations in golf, Augusta National Golf Club has identified Nov. 9-15 as the intended dates to host the 2020 Masters. More details will be shared in the weeks and months to come.
By Garrett Seymour, Communications Intern