I once heard a story about a lady who had a particular method of preparing ham.
The first thing she'd do is lop off one end and set it aside. Then and only then could the cooking commence.
One day someone asked the lady why she did that.
Because that's the way my mother did it, she replied.
Curious, the lady's mother was queried as to why she lopped off the end of the ham before cooking.
Because that's the way my mother did it, she replied.
The second lady's elderly mother was sought out and asked why, before baking a ham, she had always lopped off one end.
Because my pan wasn't big enough, she said.
Aha. How easily we believe there is only one way to skin a cat.
So it was with me and my -- unfounded, as it turned out -- belief that it was impossible to secure a ticket to any part of The Masters golf tournament held each April in Augusta, Georgia.
For frame of reference as to why I chose to natter on about the Masters again today, read this recent post.
TG has told me for all thirty-six years of our marriage that the Masters is the "toughest ticket in sport."
(And it is. If you wish to read up on how arcane the process of gaining entrance to Augusta National as a mere mortal can be, feel free. Block off at least six hours and get your googling fingers ready.)
But my assumption was, a ticket to the Masters was unobtainable. Although for thirteen years we have lived a mere seventy miles from Augusta National, I've tried only once to get TG in the gate.
It didn't occur to me to challenge the paradigm. (Takeaway: Always challenge the paradigm.)
So how I arrived at a website a few weeks ago which had Masters tickets for sale -- and subsequently found at least a dozen other websites with Masters tickets for sale -- will forever be a mystery even to me.
As in, I wasn't looking for tickets. I didn't bother to look because I never imagined they were plentiful, and readily available. They are. So it was that by accident, I discovered hundreds of them up for grabs.
The only hitch is, what's in your wallet.
As in, it had better be a lot. Unless, of course, you know someone who's willing to simply give you a ticket, or sell it to you for a song. Which we don't, more's the pity.
Now, I knew (because I'd done it before, once, a decade ago) that one could apply to Augusta National Golf Club itself for tickets to both practice and play rounds, via its annual lottery.
But I did not know that, if you have enough in the way of ready spondulicks, you may walk through the gates every single day of that tournament.
Knock your lights out, as it were.
That's because of the thousands of folks who have Masters tickets -- usually passed down in families -- several hundred are willing to make them available to the general public. For a profit.
That's where ticket brokers come in. Can you come up with the cash? They'll sell you a ticket. (Fore a mere ten grand you may attend the entire week of festivities.)
So it was that I suggested to our four kids that they pool their racehorses and buy their dad an early Father's Day present.
And they did, and although I didn't get a picture of it, a look of incredulity came over TG's face that one does not often see there, when it sank in that he is going to the Masters.
Strictly entry level this year: Monday's practice round. But hey. It's Augusta National.
And TG has a ticket credential. He's an official patron. (Don't ever call them fans; you won't be invited back.)
Oh and the ultimate irony: it says Not For Resale right on the credential which bears a face value of sixty-five dollars.
The kids were obliged to pay -- ahem -- significantly more than that.
TG's going alone. We could not afford two credentials and besides, we thought he'd enjoy it more this first time, by himself.
(I wasn't able to contribute to the purchase of TG's Masters credential. I'm obliged to set aside all of my pin money to pay for Javier's surgery later this week. He has to have his teeth removed, which costs way more than a Masters credential. Let that sink in.)
(The canine elective edentulism saga will be Friday's post. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, keep Javy in your prayers.)
No one is allowed to take a cell phone into Augusta National during the Masters. Only on practice days are cameras allowed. I'm arming TG with the Nikon and I hope he brings us some pretty pictures.
He won't need much spending money; concession eats are cheap. Augusta National declines to gouge its esteemed patrons.
Keeping it classy in the three-oh-six.
No doubt TG will taste one or two of their signature pimento cheese sandwiches.
So on the day after Easter Sunday -- on which I am fairly sure we'll consume baked ham with both ends intact -- I hope you'll take a moment to picture my handsome TG in Augusta.
He'll be excited and happy, roaming for an entire day the pristine grounds of the most well-known golf course in the world, upon which, later that week, will be held the most prestigious tournament in all of golf.
Next year he'll go on a tournament day. Or at least Wednesday's practice round, with its popular par-three contest. We will see to that, or die trying.
And that is all for now. I leave you with the genteel words printed on the reverse side of TG's Masters 2015 credential:
In golf, customs of etiquette and decorum are just as important as rules governing play. It is appropriate for spectators to applaud successful strokes in proportion to difficulty but excessive demonstrations by a player or his partisans are not proper because of the possible effect upon other competitors.
Most distressing to those who love the game of golf is the applauding or cheering of misplays or misfortunes of a player. Such occurrences have been rare at the Masters but we must eliminate them entirely if our patrons are to continue to merit their reputation as the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world.
Robert Tyre Jones, Jr.
President in Perpetuity :: Augusta National Golf Club