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Rouch Column

Posted: March 31, 2012 - 11:05pm

That long awaited time of the year is here.

Spring break.

Wait, isn’t there something else going on?

Funny how things change. Just a year ago I was getting ready for Masters Week, but in a far different capacity.

I helped keep the peace as part of the security force.

I’m not really allowed to discuss what I did. There was no “I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you” ha-ha statement. It’s just that Augusta National Golf Club takes its procedures very seriously.

The security force in and of itself was an interesting group. I met more than a handful of people from all corners of the U.S. and from all walks of life. Most took a week off from their jobs just to work there. For them, the money was mostly a break-even proposition. Most were returners, having worked a different number of years, heading into three decades for some.

After having seen many Masters Tournaments on television, and having driven by Augusta National a fair number of times, it was an incredible experience to finally be able to peek behind the curtain.

In my capacity, I wasn’t chained to one particular area. I got to spend a week walking the course and see all its magnificence. It was a good week of exercise.

They say television adds 10 pounds, but I think it takes the elevation out of hills. I knew the fairway leading to the 18th green was uphill, but I wasn’t prepared for just how steep it was. My calves were burning.

There were many thrills for me during the week, hearing the roar from across the course as Tiger Woods made a Sunday charge among them. But for me, the biggest rush was getting to walk a hole with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus during Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest. And by walk a hole, I mean outside the ropes but near them. I don’t know if there will ever be a pair like that to walk the course together again. Tiger and Phil Mickelson might be the closest thing to that.

That would be the Tiger of three years ago, of course. It was nice to see him win last week and I hope he stays in contention through Sunday.

It was a long week with a lot of hours, but I definitely wouldn’t have traded that experience for anything.

Another by-product of this year’s tournament is all The Augusta Chronicle sports writers will be on the course. That means I’ll have a chance to cover the Augusta RiverHawks playoff game Wednesday, if they advance past the first round.

I had the chance to go to the RiverHawks first playoff game Wednesday, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was exciting and it reminded me just how much I enjoy live hockey. I used to go to Washington Capitals hockey games when I lived in Maryland, but I stopped going when nosebleed seats began costing an arm and a leg.

That’s not the case here, and I thought it was a shame that only a little more than 1,000 people showed up. Hopefully, more will jump onboard as the RiverHawks advance.

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