An early Father's Day present turned into the trip of a lifetime for one Mount Ayr dad.
Last winter John Schafer received a call from his son
Joe inviting him to attend the 2015 Masters golf tournament this spring in Augusta, GA.
An avid golfer, Schafer jumped at the chance to be in the gallery
of the prestigious tournament.
"I thought he was kidding at first," said Schafer. "I was thrilled he asked me to go with him."
The tickets were for two
days of the pre-tournament practice rounds, but Schafer said the practice rounds attracted as many spectators as the actual tournament.
"The players did not
come out to practice on any type of schedule," he said. "You just had to be lucky where you were to see your favorites There were no kind of rides available
inside the grounds, but Joe had warned me early enough so I had my walking legs ready."
Unlike the actual tournament, cameras are allowed during practice
rounds, and Schafer took advantage of the opportunity. "Over two days there we saw and have pictures of just about everyone scheduled to play in the tournament,"
he said. He added the players were relaxed and cordial to the large crowds.
One highlight of the tournament is the annual Par 3 Nine-Hole Tournament on the
Wednesday before the tournament opens on Thursday. "Those who wanted had family members caddy for them," said Schafer. "The players came through with a lot of
children as caddies, and some of the younger ones paraded their babies along with this family-oriented event."
Schafer remarked on the athleticism of the
tournament field. "Joe and I were amazed at the distance and accuracy of the professional players' shots," he said. "Television does not come close to
displaying the depth of their skills."
While most golfers may wait a lifetime for a hole-in-one, Schafer said he witnessed one of the five holes-in-one
shot during the Par 3 tournament.
"And we just missed seeing Jack Nicklaus make his hole-in-one by one hole!" he added.
Schafer said another interesting
hole to watch came at #16. "It is a par 3 over the water shot in "Amen Corner," he said. "After the players make their traditional tee shots, they go down
by the water and intentiaonally hit a second ball into the water and try to skip it onto the green. I guess it is a tradition during the practice rounds. It
was definitely a crowd favorite and a hard place to get Joe away from."
So Father's Day 2015 was definitely a memorable experience for Schafer, even if he
celebrated it in April.
"The trip was an awesome experience that I shared with my son Joe," said Schafer. "He said it was my Father's Day present early."
However, this trip to the Masters was not the first Father's Day, but thanks to a promotion sponsored by the Ringgold County Cattlemen that year, John also won
a prize of eight pounds of beef, an amount equal to the weight of the baby born closest to Father's Day.
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015