A Sense of Huber: Masters edition

Augusta, Masters, Amen Corner, Huber
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The ghosts of The Masters come alive each year when Jim visits his favorite spot of Augusta National Golf Club.
By
Jim Huber
PGA.com

Series: A Sense of Huber

Published: Tuesday, April 05, 2011 | 1:53 p.m.

AUGUSTA - This is a week to mingle with ghosts.

There in the rush of yellow pollen. There midst the swaying loblolly pines, 'tween the fiery azalea and the dazzling dogwood. There under the massive oak and beside the gentle brook. They are there, just waiting.

A Sense of Huber

Emmy Award-winning sports persona Jim Huber joins PGA.com for a weekly look at the stories and experiences that make golf so unique and special.

It has been my routine now for three decades to quietly, quickly, enter their world.

On my first day on the grounds of Augusta National, after picking up my media badge and finding my working niche, after saying hello to those equally early, I begin my journey. Out the door, through the hedges, left on the side road past the enormous scoreboard, up the hill, through the ropes and under the ancient oak, out through the ropes and down the hill alongside the 10th fairway.

If there are no crowds-and Sunday mornings are usually quiet-I make my way to the 11th tee box and stop to examine what magic awaits. A few years ago, in the space of what seemed like a week, a giant forest somehow appeared on the right of the fairway. How do they do that?

I stop at the top of the hill and survey the scene that will begin the prayers of seven or eight dozen men in a few days. The prayer that begins with amen.

I slip past the pine forest and follow the natural path to my final destination. There, behind the 12th hole, in the peace and quiet of a surreal Sabbath, I take a seat in the empty stands and breathe deeply of hallowed air.

I see Sarazen and Byron Nelson. I sense Hogan, for that was usually the only way you could find the man. Along comes Palmer, and now Nicklaus. Roars follow them, respectfully loud and as individual as the men themselves. Tiger and Phil cannot be far behind, all of them the great reminders of Masters past, making their way, testing the grass, feeling the swirling breeze, teasing me.

Teasing and preparing me for the week that lies ahead.

A few years ago, I carried a stubborn cold along with me and felt dizzy and overwhelmed. But one thought carried me-that if I was about to die, what better place to go?

I have made this journey on the day of my arrival every year. Perhaps it is about the tournament, though I imagine it is more about life its ownself and the declaration of Spring.

On the Sunday of the final round, before the patrons are allowed through the gates to make their way to their favorite viewing spots, I make the journey again. Same route, same thoughts.

I've tried this at U.S. and British Opens, at PGAs, over the years with very little fortune.

Only at Augusta, where the ghosts live.

***********

From this week's mailbag:

Dennis Bankston wrote: After 36 years of Augusta, I'm sure your heart is almost back to a normal rate. What were your first five years like?

Dennis, the heart always skips a beat or two when you first set foot on those grounds. There remains, even after all these years, a very hallowed quality. I know that sounds kinda hokey but there is nothing like it. Going back to my rookie years might best be explained by the first time I ever was fortunate enough to play there. For the first couple holes, I kept hitting everything incredibly thin. My old caddie said "hey, take some damn dirt!" To which I said "I don't wanna disturb anything!" You really feel like you're in church.

Allan Wagenheim wrote: Do you think Tiger Woods will ever gain back the superior game he once had and is Jack Nicklaus's record now secure?

I really believe Tiger is too good an athlete, too tough mentally, too great a golfer to simply waste away. He'll be back but whether the layoff changed the competitive landscape is another question. I do think Jack's 18 majors are secure, yes.


I received a lot of questions and comments, more than I ever expected, regarding the women's game. That's a subject I would like to take on in an individual column very shortly. I don't know if I have any revolutionary answers but I feel much the way most of you do, that something needs to be done.

Thank you so much for the opening barrage. I'm grateful to you for taking the time and I will try to get to as many as possible. I invite you to take part in A Sense of Huber every week here by sending your questions and thoughts to askJimHuber@turner.com. Use the PGA.com Facebook page or my twitter account (@jamesrhuber) as well. And one last thing, I know I've got some years on all of you but…please don't call me Mr. Huber. I'm just Jim.  


Comments

mlonthegreen

Nice.......ghosts are the coolest, no? Instant time travel......
Onward to an amazing weekend.....

BULLDOG313076

I really enjoy your work. What a feeling it must be to walk the grounds of Augusta.
Thanks for sharing.

lilandpooh

Jim......send me an email of your work from time to time......gene@muddykidsproject.com......

lilandpooh

Great piece on the Ghost......good to read Huber again.....Jim, my name is Gene Morgan....back in the 90s you did a CNN Special on my school kids and their work with disabled deer hunters in Illinois......The CNN piece was simply great.....I still get it out from time to time and watch it.....I was in Augusta for practice rounds from Sun to Wed.....ate at TBonz Sunday night.......sure would have loved to buy you a beer and some pasta at Luigia's.......keep up the great reporting.....you are one of the best......maybe that beer and pasta next year....gene

todd_54

Ah, Jim... "life its ownself and the declaration of Spring." Beautifully said. Thanks for sharing your visit(s) with us! Todd