Hole By Hole
It's about golf.
Cape Region golf fan makes it to the Masters
April 7, 2006
A ticket to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National is among the most difficult admission passes to obtain for any sporting contest in this country, or pretty much any other spectator event, for that matter.
For example, if you’re willing to spend enough money, you can nearly always buy your way in to the Superbowl. On the other hand, the wealthy folks who run the Masters already have enough money, thank you very much, so that option just doesn’t cut it for them.
Stories abound about how folks come back year after year with passes to the Masters during the four-day competition, and never give them up. On occasion, darkly muttered tales are told of Masters’ tickets being the subject of interesting inheritance battles.
Nonetheless, for those persistent enough, there is an alternative lottery arrangement, available for golf fans happy enough with simply going to a practice round early in Masters Week. In any event, that’s pretty much the only option for them.
Jack Vassalotti is a long-time Cape Region resident and a long-time golf nut. He shares his sports affliction with several family members, including his mother Ginnie, his Aunt Carolyn Maienza, and his brother Mark.
Ginnie dutifully sent in her Masters lottery application for several years, and this year her patience was finally rewarded with a one-day pass for four patrons, as the Masters folks prefer to call their tournament visitors.
Jack explained how they all met at Augusta.
"My mom and my aunt were in Florida for the winter, and drove up. My brother drove down to here from Connecticut, and we rode down to Aiken, South Carolina on Sunday. We stayed overnight at a hotel there that charged $200 a night, because they could. Everybody staying there was going to the Masters. We spent Monday at Augusta and headed home right after that. It was a whirlwind trip, but it was a lot of fun," Vassallotti said.
Jack and his brother walked the entire course, as well as the adjacent par-3 course on the hallowed grounds. "I was really surprised at how hilly it was. I went to Bethpage in New York for the U.S. Open, and Augusta was just about as hilly as that course. It was a lot hillier than it looks on TV, and it was even prettier than it appears on television, too."
Vassalotti saw several professionals on the course, including Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomery, and Jose Maria Olazabal. "The golfers mostly kept to themselves. Some of them would come over to the lines and pose for pictures with some of the fans, but it looked like they knew them already. There was one spot where they allowed autographs, and they told you not to ask for them anywhere else."
The Masters staff also take care to maintain the cultivated image of Augusta National—extreme care, in fact.
"My mother and I came to the course with a pair of water bottles. They had us remove the labels from the bottles," Vassalotti said.
The patrons also have their own traditions during the practice rounds. Vassalotti saw one of the more amusing interactions with the golfers.
"The 16th green has this beautiful pond just in front of it. Players would hit their tee shots on the par-3, and as they walked toward the green the people would start chanting ‘Skim it! Skim it!’ Almost all of the players would then stop on the one side of the pond, drop another ball, and try to hit one that would skip across the water and land on the other side. About half of them actually made it," Vassalotti laughed.
Another noted Masters tradition is the purchase of various souvenirs, and Vassalotti joined in, buying a logo hat and a head cover.
It was a great, fast trip. "I hope to get lucky enough to do it again," Vassalotti said.
Maybe he will.
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© Frederick Schranck 1998-2006