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that night the parking lot overflowed with conversation and adult beverages. “There’s so much camaraderie,” said Jack Mack, “because we’re all there for the same reason. Everyone’s excited, talking about the course and their games and what might or might not happen the next day.” One group brought a card table

and stayed up late smoking cigars and playing poker. The Atieh boys and their friends had an impromptu frat party. “They had some kind of bottomless cooler,” said Cybulski. “I never saw them put beer in, but they kept taking it out.” Cybulski and the Macks managed

to catch a few winks before their 8:09 tee time on May 31st, what turned out to be the last day the public could play the course before it was closed for U.S. Open prep. It was a glorious, sun-kissed morning, and idling by the first tee they made nervous small talk. “Look at this tee box—it’s spec-

tacular,” said Cybulski. “The nicest we’ve ever played,” said

Jack Mack. “It’s like carpet.” “Expensive carpet.” Finally the moment came and

they whipsawed their drives down the fairway. After he putted out a hard- fought 95 I asked Cybulski if this one round had been worth all the effort. “Of course!” he said. “If you’re a golfer sometimes you have to do crazy things

to play somewhere special.” Of course, Bethpage, Pebble and

the Old Course are all public tracks. Getting on elite private clubs is a whole other ballgame. I shouldn’t ad- mit this but in college a couple friends and I sneaked onto Cypress Point in the middle of the night and played the 16th hole with glow-in-the-dark golf balls. To enjoy a club like Cypress dur- ing daylight hours it obviously helps to know the right people but there are other ways in. On Monday of AT&T week Monterey Peninsula Country Club hosts a fundraiser for the local Boys and Girls Club and for a gener- ous donation members of the public can snap up a tee time on the Shore Course. In the wake of 9/11 vaunted Pine Valley Golf Club held a fundrais- er for the Twin Towers Fund and 100 golfers paid $1,000 each to play what is widely considered the finest course in the United States. For many dreamers Augusta Na-

tional is at the top of their wish-list but it’s actually not that hard to crack this ultra-exclusive boy’s club. Long-stand- ing Masters volunteers are allowed to play the course in May, the day before Augusta National closes for the summer. In the course of covering the Masters I’ve met lots of Joe Schmoes who have played their way through Amen Corner a number of times. The tournament volunteers actually work pretty hard; if you’re lazy you can still play Augusta National—just become a sportswriter. Every year the Masters holds a lottery for 40 or so scribes, who get to play the course the day after the tournament ends. At my second Masters, in 1996, my number came up. Once you win the lottery you can’t enter for another seven years. I’m now back in, and hoping to get lucky once more. Driving down Magnolia Lane is wonderful, and the unworthy scribes get to use the Champion’s Locker Room and have full run of the place. But there’s one more great thing about playing Augusta National: handicap cards are not required.

Alan Shipnuck is senior writer for Sports Illustrated and writes two weekly columns for

SPRING 2011 / NCGA.ORG / 53


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