Most people’s ‘first times’ are pretty memorable: The first time driving a car, your first earned paycheck, your first kiss, etc. I enjoy sharing first moments with people. I’ll jump at the chance to watch a classic movie with you for the first time or to introduce you to a favorite restaurant. So, when I got the opportunity to take my oldest son to the Masters for the first time, I was ecstatic.
My son has always loved golf far more than my one-week-out-of-the-year fandom. He knows all the golfers, knows their chances at winning this year, stats, you name it. He’s always been that way. The kid has a knack for remembering sports stats. This has always amazed me, because I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning.
A few years back, a friend helped me secure a couple passes to the Tuesday practice round. When I told my son, who was 9 at the time, that we were going, he was beside himself with excitement. As we walk out onto the course, the look on his face was pretty much everyone’s as they walk past that main scoreboard onto the first fairway for the first time. I could hardly wait to walk him around to my favorite parts of the course. I remember thinking how much he’ll love watching the golfers skip balls across the water on 16 and how his eyes won’t believe the beauty that is Amen Corner. But then, something happened. He got lost.
He was an excited kid and ran up the rope to watch Phil Mickelson tee off on 10. At the Augusta National, I couldn’t exactly go running after him as running is expressly forbidden. He disappeared in the bungled congestion of the hill where 1, 9, 18 and 10 meet. My panic was briefly subdued when I found him about halfway down the 10th fairway. The only problem was, I was on the other side of the fairway. My new problem: getting his attention. Yelling his name was out of the question and the strip of green that separated the ropes outside of which we stood might as well have been molten lava. At the Augusta National Golf Club, if you cross the ropes, your day is over. So, I stared and willed him to look at me. That’s the only way I can explain it. I could see the the relief on his face and pointed for him to meet me at the green. Boy, was that a mistake. I didn’t see that kid for another hour. It was probably the longest hour of my life. My 9-year-old son is nowhere to be found. I have no phone, so he can’t call me, and does this place have a “Lost Parents” area? I mean, it ain’t exactly Six Flags.
I was finally approached by an E-Z-Go driven by a guy in a green jacket with my teary-eyed son riding shotgun. I tried to not let on how panicked I had been because, y’know, as parents, we’re supposed to have everything under control. I bought him a Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich, walked him over to the “The Corner” and breathed the biggest sigh of relief in my life.
I’ve seen some of the biggest names in the tournament tee off on 18 on Sunday, but this is my biggest and, somehow, my favorite Masters Memory.