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Got a badge? Take a junior

Grandstands line the tee at No. 16. Photos by Parish Lowrie

Canoe Kids
By Melissa Lowrie

  Melissa Lowrie

One need not be a fan of the game of golf to enjoy the experience of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters encompasses much more than golf.  Yes, golf fans flock from all over to the tournament, however, you can be a fan of competition, sport, azaleas, history, landscape design, men in green jackets, or pimento cheese sandwiches and have a great day.

We have been blessed to be able to attend the tournament for years and decided this year would be a good time to take our 10-year-old. The Masters has a junior admittance policy that states any child from 8 to 16 years of age can receive a complimentary junior badge when accompanied by the patron of record. The child does not need to be related to the patron.

From the time we arrived with our junior patron, special attention was paid.

There is a special line for juniors at the main gate. We walked up and were immediately greeted by two green jacket-clad Augusta National members who warmly welcomed us with sincere smiles and a deeply southern drawl.

Our junior patron was given a junior pass and a 2014 Junior Patron pin to wear with his orange Puma hat and matching shirt. If I had a dollar for every person that asked him if he was a fan of Rickie Fowler that day, I could have bought souvenirs for all of you. And yes, he’s a fan.

Players walk the 18th fairway at Augusta National Golf Club.

It wasn’t hard to find the Fowler/Poulter paring that Saturday; they were a popular twosome and we chose to follow them for a few holes. Depending on what hole they played, the crowds were sometimes thick, but usually manageable.

When we’d get to a tee box or a green and find the gallery three deep, the seas parted for our young patron. While we waited in the back of the crowd, we watched as people made room for the 10-year-old golf fan right behind the rope. He had primo vantage points throughout the day.

Taking a child to a place you’re familiar with is like seeing it with fresh eyes. This day was no different.

Masters      Masters
The complimentary pass worn by a Fowler-fan Saturday at the Masters. Photo by Melissa Lowrie     Azaleas burst with color in April at the Masters. Children 8 to 16 are eligible for a Junior Pass when accompanied by a tournament patron.

Did he grasp the weight of the tournament? Probably not. Did he think it was fun? Yes. About the experience, he said, “I thought it was awesome. And we got to see Rickie Fowler up close; that was really, really cool.” Of the course, he said, “It was beautiful.” I agree on all counts.

If you know someone with Masters badges, ask them about the junior pass. What a gift to see the tournament through the eyes of a child. Taking a kid is as fun for the adult as it is the junior.

I overheard my son ask his dad that day, “When can we play here?”

An innocent and honest question that, for now, remains to be seen. Hope springs eternal in the mind of a child.


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