Family has a different Masters tradition

Many of our best social gatherings have to be memories in these distancing days. One of my most vivid at this time of year is of the Masters. It begins with an eagle I once posted one Masters Sunday.

Not the Augusta Masters – although I’ve had the privilege of attending that tournament many times. I got an eagle at the Masters down the road at our son’s house.

Every year David and Amy host a Masters party for family and friends. It’s always a three-generational affair, a daylong “do” with lunch, practice rounds and playing a nine-hole course, first for the adults and then for the kids.

Viewing of the Augusta Masters on television is available as are snacks all afternoon and into the evening until the traditional green jacket is presented. Libations are served in his Tiger Lounge. I’ve always teased that I go for both the fellowship and for tradition, i.e., my annual mint julep.

One year for the first time I decided to join the competition for the ultimate trophy – a green tee shirt. The local game is played with croquet mallets and balls, the holes are wooden stakes with green flags and the course is laid out on David’s front, back and side yards.

We have much of the Augusta ambiance as his double lot is flush with mature spring flowers.

Doglegs wind insidiously through tall tunnels of azaleas and under the umbrellas of dozens of blossoming dogwoods. Alas, even with this inspiring background, I didn’t get the green tee shirt, but I did shoot par and that, along with the only eagle in the competition, prompted David to dub me the Senior Master, quite appropriately as I was definitely the most senior senior in attendance.

The winner was a charming fellow named Mark who deserved to win because – imagine – he played better than anybody else and thus had the lowest score with two under par.

I follow the game, but don’t play real golf. Most every blood and matrimonial relative of mine does. My late husband was a southern boy, born and bred in Augusta, who played The National many times.

Whenever Air Force assignments brought us close to Dixie, we always got to attend this wonderful competition. The course is absolutely gorgeous; the hospitality, southern at its best; the amenities well thought out, and the standards both of play and conduct, are of the highest.

My dad, an avid duffer, and great admirer of the Masters, had us all take golf lessons. My brothers continue to play but my only claim to fame is that I won the Junior Putting Championship at an Atlanta club by holing a 30-foot putt.

It’s taken me only five decades to claim my second lifetime title and I intend to revel in it as much as possible.

Between Atlanta and Augusta, I’ve also been able to watch some of the “greats” play, including Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, and my personal favorite, Jack Nicklaus.

Phil Mickelson deserved to win the last Masters I attended. Like most players – professional and amateur – he’s had his game ups and downs. But he kept at it and donned his third green jacket that Sunday. He did it while dealing with severe family problems and he had his family with him, and behind him. Let’s hope all future champions can follow that lead.

Barbara Hill is a local historian and former reporter for the Summerville Journal Scene.