In a crowd of thousands of patrons at the Masters, I stood out from the rest. I was wearing something that unintentionally drew lots of attention. No, it wasn’t an obnoxiously-patterned pair of Loud Mouth Golf pants. I was donning something that is rarely seen on tournament days — a toddler. With Ellie strapped to my chest in the baby carrier and EC at Chris’ side, our crew did not look like your typical bunch of Masters patrons.
I lost count of how many times during our three days at the tournament we were approached by strangers, all who had the same question: “I was just wondering…did your kids have to have a badge to get in?”
And my response of “yes” was usually followed by:
“They don’t know how lucky they are.”
“Wow, I bet that was expensive!”
And likely, the most awkward,
“Huh. Well I know lots of other people who sure would’ve loved to have that badge.”
I get it, really I do. It’s THE MASTERS — the hardest ticket to get in sports. A practice round ticket is near impossible. You have to win the (Masters) lottery to get a badge for Thursday, Friday or Saturday. And a Sunday badge is the most coveted and sacred treasure known by few and envied by many.
I understand that some people may think it is a bit ridiculous to grant the opportunity of a lifetime to two kids who can’t possibly understand how special it is. But what those people don’t understand is that I don’t bring my kids to the Masters because I think they will fully understand it.
I bring my kids to the Masters to carry on the family tradition of the many years I spent as a kid sitting at the ropes on #12.
I bring my kids to the Masters because it is a sacred place for their Daddy and me.
I bring my kids to the Masters to plant the seed.
I bring my kids to the Masters to show them that sporting events can still be classy.
I bring my kids to the Masters to teach them that life can still be fun when you are forced to leave your phone behind.
I bring my kids to the Masters because Bobby Jones had the vision for “a gathering of friends at a magnificent golf course”, and for our family, it is exactly that.
But most importantly, I bring my kids to the Masters because of this man.
I bring my kids to the Masters because it’s what he did for me.
I bring my kids to the Masters because his generosity is unending.
I bring my kids to the Masters because it’s an experience he wants to share with my daughters and my niece, Adeline.
I bring my kids to the Masters so they can stand at the ropes and see my brother follow in his footsteps.
I bring my kids to the Masters to let the sit in the [Amen] Corner with their grandfather.
I bring my kids to the Master because his smile has never been so bright as it was when he proudly showed off his three granddaughters (Addie on Tuesday and EC and Ellie today) to our “Masters family”.
I bring my kids to the Masters to hear a Gallery Guard come up to him as he sat near Emma Claire and say, “So this must be Boppy’s Golden Bell that we all celebrated here on #12 six years ago.”
I bring my kids to the Masters to celebrate the addition of two more of Boppy’s Golden Bells — Ellie and Addie — since EC painted #12 pink in 2011.
I bring my kids to the Masters because whether he realized it or not, I saw the tears in his eyes as we hugged him goodbye before leaving the course.
My girls may not understand the importance of being at the Masters this weekend, but eventually they will. And I hope that one day when they are grown, they too will have the chance to be in a crowd of thousands of patrons at the Masters and stand out from the rest as they show their children the magic that lives on in this family tradition.