Un­der­cover Tour Pro Even the play­ers run afoul of Au­gusta Na­tional

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - With Max Adler

Even the play­ers get into trou­ble at Au­gusta Na­tional.

I’ve played in three Masters. I’m com­fort­able there, but the rst time I was def­i­nitely on edge. Au­gusta Na­tional is a beau­ti­ful place, but, boy, there are some di er­ent rules.And you re­ally don’t want to get caught break­ing one. If you can keep your name out of the con­ver­sa­tion un­til Sun­day, then go out with a bang of birdies and some­how wind up with a green jacket, well, that’s a good way to do it.

Not that I spend that much time con­sid­er­ing my deco­rum. We’re all pro­fes­sion­als. We play golf for a liv­ing and know how to con­duct our- selves in and around a club­house. It’s not like we’re out drink­ing and smok­ing all year and then clean it up for a week. Still, there are ways we mess up.

My rst Masters, I went to Au­gusta a cou­ple of weeks early to see the course. My reg­u­lar cad­die was al­lowed to walk along as a lo­cal cad­die took us around. Af­ter, we played the Par-3 Course. It was near dusk, and at one of the far tees I said to my cad­die, my long­time friend and fel­low golf lu­natic, “Here, hit one.”

The lo­cal cad­die took the wedge from my hand: “If he hits that ball, I lose my job.” Whoa, I thought, that’s ex­ces­sive. But I be­lieved him.

Ob­vi­ously, the big thing is the phone.You use it only in the locker room. Ev­ery week on the PGA Tour, I con­duct full-length phone con­ver­sa­tions on the range, so that’s di er­ent. Even if you’re wait­ing on a tee dur­ing a prac­tice round, don’t sneak the phone out for a quick text. I’ve seen guys do this, but it’s not worth the po­ten­tial ag­gra­va­tion.

My coach was once thrown out when he took video of my swing with his Black­Berry. We were at the sev­enth tee box. A se­cu­rity guard re­moved him from the golf course. He spent the rest of the day check­ing out the town.

When my par­ents came, we had trou­ble. They ew in when I was play­ing a prac­tice round, and so my wife and daugh­ter go to pick them up. Be­cause they had the cour­tesy car, they could drive right down Mag­no­lia Lane, which was a thrill for my folks. As soon as they park, my dad goes straight to the mer­chan­dise cen­tre. He wanted to be sure he got the best stu be­fore it sold out.

He gets $400 worth of sou­venirs. As he’s go­ing through check­out, his card gets de­clined be­cause he’s trav­el­ling out of state. He steps away from the reg­is­ter and takes out his phone – go­ing through the player en­trance, he hadn’t faced se­cu­rity – and be­gins di­alling the num­ber on the back of the card. Be­fore he can press “send,” two guards grab him by the shoul­ders and usher him out. They don’t even tell him to put the phone away.T hey hold him in this small room, cell­phone jail, and I have to go get him.

My dad’s shaken up and feels ter­ri­ble. When his cap­tors see I’m a player, there’s no sense of sorry for any mis­un­der­stand­ing. It wasn’t like my dad was out on the course tak­ing pho­tos or call­ing in to a ra­dio show. The vibe was de nitely the other way:W e should feel bad, and I could ex­pect to hear more about this in­ci­dent. (I didn’t.) The whole thing took about an hour.

Be­cause our child is in day­care, the club al­ways gives my wife a beeper. She has never had a prob­lem. An­other sys­tem that works great is the lit­tle card they give play­ers. It’s like your mem­ber card. You can eat any­where, and what­ever your fam­ily spends, they just send you a bill a few weeks later. It’s fan­tas­tic. All in, just about ev­ery minute you spend at Au­gusta Na­tional is a life high­light. But you will have a few “learn­ing” ex­pe­ri­ences.

Tons of play­ers have sto­ries just like mine, I’m sure. No­body talks about them be­cause life’s eas­ier when those sto­ries don’t get out.

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