I used to lie. I told people I had a spot under the oak behind the 7th green, a nice little blind where I could watch the world’s best golfers play their fourth from the fairway after lying two on the back fringe. Or I claimed to be a regular on the press scaffold down in Amen Corner, which provides a panoramic view of holes 11, 12 and 13. Or I bragged about how, at 6’7″, I could stand on tiptoes and see over the spectators behind the 10th tee, affording me a caddie’s-eye view of those slingshot hooks that sail down, down, down into the funnel of pines.
My fibs protected Augusta National’s most thrilling spectator perch: the grassy sky-mound behind the 6th tee. A par-3 of 180 yards, the 6th is amphitheater golf at its best. From the treetop tee, golfers launch iron shots over a ravine so deep that it conceals a busy crosswalk and hundreds of spectators seated on a grassy slope. The two-tiered green is ringed with bunkers and a multicolored lei of wrinkled badge holders.
The slippery green provides most of the terror — downhill three-footers can turn into uphill 30-footers — but I prefer the tee box. Stand close and you can pick up snippets of conversation as the players wait for the green to clear; and when they finally strike their shots, you can almost feel the club in your hands as your eyes follow the ball all the way down.
To get to my aerie you have to trek to the highest, most remote corner of the course, usually by traversing the formidable but hard-to-view par-4 5th. Once there, you’ll have to stand to see; and if you feel a sudden urge to visit a concession stand or the loo, too bad. They’re down on the valley floor.
But I don’t go to the Masters for the beer or the bathrooms. I go to stand behind Tiger Woods and watch him hold that magazine-cover pose while thousands wait below, their eyes on that little dot in the sky.