I am not Tiger Woods.
Truth be told, I look more like one of the guys from “Caddy Shack” on the golf course. Not even one of the stars of the movie — more like an extra.
As I sat and watched the Masters, I was captivated by the brilliance and precision of the world’s best golfers on one of the world’s best courses.
Many of my co-workers and friends scoffed at the impenetrable trance I worked myself into while watching the tournament.
“How can you watch this?” they wondered, “It’s so boring.”
If you’ve never played the game before, I’ll admit it doesn’t look very exciting. Holes-in-one are few and far between, and most of the time any approach shot that lands within 15 feet of the hole is considered a great golf shot. This is not that difficult of a sport, right?
I believed just that, at one time. I couldn’t fathom why my father and grandfather were so fixed in front of the TV during the final round of a golf tournament. Then I picked up a 6 iron for the first time 10 years ago and never wondered why again.
Allow me to explain.
Over the four days of the tournament, Tiger Woods ripped drive after drive down the center of the fairway — each one consistently straight, consistently powerful and seemingly effortless.
Watching golf for an entire weekend does something to me. I begin to have delusions of grandeur. I begin to think that I too am capable of shots that can tame a course. Maybe I am Tiger Woods, after all.
So with heightened confidence and heightened temperatures, I headed out to the course.
I usually hit several drives down the middle of a fairway. I remember the look of shock on the faces of my friends as the ball rolled down the center of the 9th fairway.
Unfortunately, I was standing on the first tee when I fired that particular shot of golf mastery. I actually held up a group of players that was trying to play that hole while I chipped back onto the fairway I was supposed to be playing.
Irritated but determined, I trudged on. My illusions of ease quickly vanished as my tee shots on 3, 5 and 9 hooked somewhere into the vast woods that hugged the right side of the fairway.
By the time Tiger made the turn at Augusta, he was two under par.
By the time I walked to the 10th tee, I had fired a 47, a full 11 shots over par. And I had a blister.
I started to wonder why I had paid money for the whole experience. I could’ve experienced the same thing sitting at home hitting my hand with a hammer and saved $20 to boot.
Tiger bogeyed the 11th hole Sunday. Although the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at Augusta are considered the three toughest consecutive holes in golf — hence the nickname “Amen Corner” — Tiger was irritated with his lapse.
I bogeyed the 10th at Dumpwood Hills and thought things were finally starting to look up.
Tiger played the rest of Amen Corner flawlessly and was well on his way to his second consecutive green jacket. My experience on the 11th, 12th and 13th left me dropping F-bombs in front of some senior citizens, wrapping my seven iron around a tree and asking my playing partners to back over me with the golf cart to put me out of my misery.
By the 18th, my blister had ripped open, and I promised myself I would never again play this game.
My drive at 18 sliced to the right — as it always does — but the golf gods smiled upon me and the errant drive kicked off a tree and came to rest on the edge of the fairway.
With my 5 iron in hand, I managed to make solid contact and watched in wonder as the ball sailed high into the air and came to rest on the green.
Suddenly the blister didn’t hurt anymore, the 18 shots over par didn’t matter and I approached the 18th green like Tiger — feeling like a champion. I tipped my cap to the imaginary spectators and high-fived my pretend caddy.
As the birdie putt fell, my faith in the game was fully restored. Tiger may have had the perfect tournament, but I had the perfect hole. And I eagerly made plans to do it all over again this week.
No, I am not Tiger Woods. But I felt like him for one brief, shining moment on the 18th.
And in the game of golf, that one moment is worth it all.
Zach Fehrenbach is a UW alumnus and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.