How many times in life do we experience the phenomenon of knowing that the specific moment we're currently living will last in our memories forever? I can't answer for everyone, but for me it is rare. However, one such date where I have experienced this is April 9, 2015.
This day is special because it is the first (and only) time that I have attended the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta. But it is especially memorable because I went with my dad. About a week before the tournament, he received two passes to the Thursday opening round from a friend from church with the stipulation that my dad had to use one of the passes. Now my dad is not one who typically enjoys crowds or gets overly excited over big events. So when he called to ask if I wanted to join him for a day at the Masters, I was very surprised and jumped at the opportunity.
Little did he know what he was getting himself into. In the days leading up to our Masters trip, I researched all the best places for spectators to see the course and was ready to see them all when we got there.
We left Athens early that day and arrived before the crowds had gotten too big. None of the players had made it to the back 9 of the course yet, so we first walked over to Amen corner to soak it in without the crowds (knowing that this would make my dad happy).
Walking through the pinestraw along the 13th fairway and surveying the green felt almost unreal. The setting felt like a king's private garden. The grass was beyond perfect. The bunkers flanking the 13th hole were much bigger than I imagined. And the azalea bushes were in full bloom setting up one of the most gorgeous sites in golf. There was literally no one else over there at the moment so we just silently gazed at the splendor.
From there, I proceeded to lead him to all of the wonderful spots that I had either read about or seen on TV. Of course there was Amen corner. But we also sat under the pines at the green of the 16th hole. We stood at the green of the par-3 6th hole watching each player launch balls from the top of the hill over spectators onto the sloped green below. We pivoted from our spot at the 6th hole to catch Bubba Watson scream a drive from the 7th tee with his signature pink driver. We stood behind the 11th hole tee box seeing the competitors hit big drives down the majestic fairway. And we walked up the hill along the 10th fairway surveying the towering pine trees lining it.
I realized that I had gotten carried away when my dad slowed down significantly as we reached the top of the hill at the 10th hole. He said that he was ok to go on as we had walked the course throughout the day, but it now occurred to me that we had walked the entire course!
I have always seen my dad as a strong man, but even I should have known that it was asking a lot of a 64-year-old man with a bad back to keep up with my 37-year-old legs on an 80-degree day. I apologized and we got a drink to cool off. Afterward, we made the long walk back to the car for our trip home to Athens.
I know that my dad was worn out after the long day, but he never complained about being tired or hurting. I think he knew how much the experience meant to me.
As I drove home, I knew that all of this experience would stick with me forever. Now, as I said before, my dad is not keen on crowds and he's not someone that I would call a golf fan. He could have passed on his friend's offer of the tickets, but he accepted so that we could go together.
We had rarely shared in this type of activity since I graduated college, so I savored this time all the more. For that day, I was a kid again in awe of what I saw. It made me think about the passage of time and how those awe-striking moments seem to become rarer as we get older (though that shouldn't be the case).
With this year's Masters Tournament just concluded, I think of that day again fondly. I'm reminded of just how precious that moment was because my dad suffered a strong stroke just over a month ago. He since has made a solid recovery, but is still left weakened by the stroke. I'm happy to know that he's better now, and I'm beyond thankful for the time he has put in through the years showing his love.
Relationships are what give importance to our lives. Most often, the moments that we will always cherish are those that we have shared with others. That is certainly true of that April day in 2015 when I went to the Masters with my dad.