Moments live on in fans

Monday, April 04, 2011
Staff Reports

The Augusta Chronicle asked a few players and fans to share memories of their favorite Masters moments. Staff Writer Chris Gay compiled the best vignettes:

Masters patrons in the 1960s and 1970s formed Arnie's Army and followed Arnold Palmer's charges around the golf course.

(File/Associated Press)

My first Masters, around the mid-1970s, I wasn't a member of Arnie's Army, but I witnessed it for the first time that year. I was out there with some friends. We were maybe 11 or 12 years old. Our parents let us skip school so we could attend a practice round. That morning we walked the entire course following Billy Casper. Then when we were eating our bag lunches in the picnic area (today it's where the press box and main golf shop are). We were sitting with a nice gentleman from Tennessee. We looked over at the first fairway and we saw droves and droves of people running from the first tee box to the first green. My friends and I asked what was going on. The gentleman we were sitting with said, "That's Arnie's Army."

-- Zane D. Christopher Jr.

A true 1983 Masters Tournament golf recovery story I'll always remember: My favorite spectating spot at the tournament is front row near the right-side bunker at the second hole. Seve Ballesteros had already won his first Masters in 1980, and his fiery spirit gave American Masters patrons more heartburn than a Spanish tamale. In 1983, everyone wanted young Texan Ben Crenshaw to win his first Masters. About the third round, Seve hit his second shot short of my bunker and then chunked his easy third shot into that bunker right in front of me. Being seated so close to the bunker gave me a good opportunity to "whisper" loud enough so he could hear me as he walked up.

"What an awful shot for a so-called pro golfer," I gruffed.

Seve's face grimaced at his poor pitch. He briskly stepped down into the deep green-side bunker, buried his feet and without hesitation plunged his club head into the sand.

The ball fluffed softly out of the sand and landed directly in the hole for a birdie. Seve leapt out of the sand and seemed to look directly into my face with a happy smirk. Oh, did I feel like a fool! Seve won that 1983 Masters, and I've greatly admired him ever since. He taught me one of golf's greatest mental lessons: Forget the bad shot, recover and move on!

-- Doug Herman

Our family is in scoring and have been since the 1950s. In 2000, our youngest son was born at St. Joseph Hospital (now Trinity Hospital) on Masters Monday (April 3) and his name is ... Bobby Jones.

Our home is also basically a shrine to the Augusta National, from the signed pictures to the putting green in the garage with a life-size leaderboard to the flower bed with the yellow pansies in the shape of the U.S. It's pretty cool stuff if anyone is an Augusta National, Masters or Bobby Jones fan.

-- Tony R. Jones Sr.

During my senior year at Aquinas High School (in 1986), I had the good fortune to work as a runner for Sports Illustrated for that event, and I was assigned to Mike O'Brien. I carried his film, lenses and other camera equipment for the duration of the event. He was the photographer who took the picture of Jack Nicklaus that appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated . The irony is that Mike's specialty was actually photography for horse racing, and the cover photo was his first and only for Sports Illustrated .

Nicklaus was several strokes back on the last day, and he teed off well in advance of the leaders. Mike kiddingly asked me as he took "warm-up shots" from a location about 60 yards down the second fairway if he should "waste some film on Nicklaus" (obviously this was well before digital, when conserving film was a legitimate concern). He was just digging at me because he knew that Nicklaus was my favorite golfer at the time, as we both hailed from Ohio. I told him that "win or lose, everybody wanted to know how Nicklaus did," which is very similar to the treatment of Tiger Woods now. He did take several shots of Nicklaus on the second tee, which he would have done regardless.

When Nicklaus made his charge on the back, we were out of position and it was very difficult for Mike and I to navigate through the crowds so that he would have a good vantage point for better photos. Ironically, it was one of the pictures that Mike took on the second tee -- well before the historic charge -- that made the cover.

Mike called me to tell me the news of the cover shot, and sent me a considerable (for a high-schooler) bonus for my assistance.

-- Zane Leiden