It’s finally here.
Hawaii was gorgeous, the West Coast was compelling and the run through Florida had its moments but this is what we’ve been waiting for.
The turn onto Magnolia Lane and Masters week.
With the possible exception of the Open Championship at the Old Course, no week in golf tugs at us like this one because of the setting, because of the history and because of the feeling.
The Masters is like nothing else.
If you’re one of the fortunate ones with access to a Masters badge, there are familiar spots to visit, old friends to see and memories to catalog.
There is the mandatory stop in the merchandise shop, a new, gleaming building that is as refined as everything else around Augusta National, elevating the shopping experience to a level that might make Nordstrom envious.
There are egg salad sandwiches and Masters moon pies to purchase at lunch time and drinks in plastic cups bearing the famous logo that are just the right size for a proper cocktail when you’re back home.
From up on the hill near the clubhouse, it’s easy to hear the cheers from the par-3 16th hole where players skip shots across the pond onto the green, a recent practice round tradition that’s caught on.
There’s the occasional celebrity in the gallery, hanging out watching golf with everyone else, and the Par-3 Contest has become the cutest day in the game.
On Thursday morning, the game begins.
If you’re not at Augusta National, you probably have your own rituals. Maybe you make your own pimento cheese or blend your own azaleas, one of the club’s signature drinks.
Maybe you just sit there and soak it all in because that’s what the Masters is there for. There are so many reasons why it’s not like any other golf tournament but the one that lingers is the experience, whether you’re climbing the hills at Augusta National or watching with friends after playing 18 holes at home on a weekend morning.
At a place famous for its exclusivity, the Masters does its most lasting work by bringing the people of the game together.
There’s nothing better.