Flew from Manchester to Philadelphia, an 8hr fight, followed by 1hr 10min short hop to Columbia airport. What a nice airport! Only a 15 minute transfer to the Marriott Hotel, a superb hotel in downtown Columbia arriving at the hotel at about 6pm allowing for a relaxed meal in the evening at an all-you-can-eat Steak Restaurant, Cowboys, 14 different meats. Brilliant! All within 50 yards of the hotel. What a great night!
Left the hotel at 07:30 arriving at The 1018 Club, Augusta at 08.30. The 1018 is our base in Augusta, where great food, and unlimited drink of all varieties is available all day. Then we got our first glimpse of the course. We are here, and how cool is that! The main course looks wide open without crowds lining the fairways. I reckon I could do well here!!! We walked the course. AMAZING, for all avid golf fans, this trip is a MUST.
We followed Jimenez for a few holes. He was playing on his own, jabbering to his caddy, chomping on his trademark cigar, and playing up to the galleries! Also watched players trying to skim shots across the par 3 16th water hazard, Martin Kaymer holed it on Monday! In the afternoon we watched the Par 3 tournament. The players take time to chat with the crowd, and sign autographs on anything offered to them!
Later on it started to rain, so it was back to the 1018 for a couple of cool ones before we left Augusta at 18:00, back to the hotel for 19:30. We went for a drink at the nearby Sheraton, which has a bar in a former bank vault downstairs, and another on a roof terrace. We ate at a wonderful Steak & Fish restaurant. This is the only day we are allowed to take cameras onto the course.
Left the hotel to play at Woodlands GC at 09:30 arrived at 10:00, to tee off at 11:00, a great golf course, with excellent practice facilities and teaching, immediately in front of the clubhouse. Great hospitality. In the evening we ate at The Vineyard Restaurant across the road from the hotel, incredible food!
Left the hotel at 07:00 arriving at Augusta at 08:15, watched the 2nd round at the Masters. It was cut day, so we still saw the full field. It was an incredible atmosphere at the key vantage points around the course, 6th/15th/16th holes, 11th/12th/13th holes.
We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at the 1018. It was a relief to have some time in the air-conditioning, but with plenty of flat screens on the wall so that you don't miss a shot! We left Augusta at about 8pm, back to the hotel for 9.15pm. We had a later start on Saturday so we went exploring the bars of Columbia. There are plenty, and lively as all the students of USC seemed to be out as well. A late night!
We left at 10:30, arriving at 11:00 to play at Wildewood GC, a beautiful championship golf course, breath taking setting with incredible houses surrounding each hole. We actually got to play with Anton du Beke and his pal. What a nice chap, and a very competent 6 handicapper. Sadly, we lost! We left Wildewood at about 6pm; back to the hotel and we dined at a lovely, smart Italian restaurant, Divinos. A short taxi ride away, and the best food so far!
We left the hotel at 07:00 arriving at 08:30 for the Final day and presentation ceremony, a mad dash to place our Patron's chairs (you can buy them at the shop) at our chosen vantage point to the left of the 16th green allowing us to watch shots coming into the 15th green and easy access to the 5th green and par 3 6th. We had our official picture taken outside the clubhouse, an incredible building and the whole vibe at Augusta oozes history, excellence and attention to detail. Amazing atmosphere over the last couple of hours, loud cheers coming from all over the course! What a winner in Bubba Watson, great guy & deserved to win! We snacked at the 1018 again then left Augusta at 8:30, back at 10:00. Another late night.
Flight back home, to reality. But WHAT A WEEK!! I will keep these memories for ever. This really is the trip of a lifetime!