Last week, I received my first big reporting assignment. I was designated, assistant columnist to cover The Masters golf tournament from the famed Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia.
I was psyched, but I also knew that I was an assistant columnist.
You know what that means? The first three letters in assistant are... ass.
It was, make it, or break it time for me--- Either kicking ass, or becoming an ass.
I hoped for the former.
My boss told me to write "something unique and different," than the thousands of Masters columns written before me. Besides, he had two sports columnists, the business and sports editors, plus an intern to cover the event. He was very specific in his request; nothing written about the players, the tournament, the time honored traditions, or the famed history.
"Newbie, if you want to keep your day job, make it original and intriguing!" He demanded. "Think outside the ???tee' box," he said.
So, I hit the course. I started walking and thinking... More books, columns and stories have been written about Augusta National history and Masters tradition, than mulligans handed out on any given Sunday!
What can I write about, the Azaleas? What can I say that hasn't already been said before? I asked.
My boss didn't leave me with too many options--- I can't write about Tiger or Trevor, nor (Bobby) Jones or Jack. Sarazen's 1935 "the shot heard ???round the world," double eagle is off limits. The Butler Cabin, and the Green Jacket are too--- All off-limits.
He's got me handcuffed better than Jean Van de Velde on number eighteen at the 1999 British Open!
What am I supposed to write about? Geography? Rae's Creek? How hilly the course is? That there isn't a flat lie on the entire eighteen holes? Who really cares about the slope, side hill and down hills lies? What's left?
I've got to think of something, and fast, if I want to keep my "day" job.
Walking up and down hills, from Tea Olive, to Magnolia, to Carolina Cherry, made me thirsty, so I turned to the intern--- I need something to drink.
"How about some fresh squeezed pink lemonade?" he asked. "I hear it's the best this side of the Mississippi."
Here's ten dollars, let's see if it's true?
A few minutes later, Carl came back with two pink lemonades and eight dollars in change. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about it, but I got two lemonades and eight dollars change. Do the math--- Each lemonade cost a dollar!
Is that right? I asked myself. I questioned Carl. Are you sure the concession person didn't make a mistake?
"She didn't make a mistake. The menu listed pink lemonade for a dollar--- Hey, why don't you write about the lemonade?" he replied.
That's why you're an intern! No one cares that much about the lemonade!
"Maybe you can write a story about the prices?"
The prices? I quizzically asked.
"You didn't notice? They're really cheap! Take a look for yourself. Except for..."
These are the actual prices?
"That's what the sign says."
Turkey on wheat--- $1.50
Tuna on wheat--- $1.50
Chicken breast--- $2.50
Pimento cheese $1.50
Pink lemonade $1.00
Bottled water--- $1.50
Sports drink--- $1.00
Gatorade Tiger--- $7.50
Wow! They really are cheap! I said. I'll have another lemonade, as I walked up to the concession and pulled out another dollar.
"I'm sorry, were out of lemonade." the concessionaire replied in her thick southern accent. "It goes really fast. Usually were sold out by noon.
Okay, I'll have a bottle of water, I asked.
"Sorry were sold out of water; it's a hot day; we should have some more in fifteen minutes or so; It's coming from the warehouse.
Can I ask you a question?
"Sure, go right ahead."
Have you been to a professional baseball or basketball game lately?
"Just here, at the tuna-mint--- I'm a volunteer from the church," she replied.
Now, I'm not complaining, but where are your seven-fifty beers, five dollar hot dogs, and three dollar and fifty cent bottled waters?
"Sir?" she politely responded.
Your prices are so cheap! Don't you have to make money to pay for the tournament?
"Whadda you mean?"
I mean, doesn't Augusta have to make money to pay for the millions of dollars given to the players in prize money, maintenance of the course, the PGA...?
"Sir, this country club is the most exclusive in the world. The dues cost tens of thousands dollars per month, the average members' net worth is two-hundred and fifty million dollars! And most of the members arrive on their private jet. See over there? That's the private jet parking lot!"
Private jet parking lot? I guess, they really don't need the money!"
"What'll you have sir?"
I'll have one of those.
"You want a Gatorade Tiger?"
Gatorade Tiger? What's that?
"We have U.S. Open Watermelon, Pebble Beach Peach, Augusta Orange and WGC Iced Tea?" she stated.
Gatorade makes sports drink named after Tiger Woods?
"Yes sir! It's new; they're seven-fifty. You wanna try one? I like the Augusta Orange."
It's Tiger Gatorade?
"Yep, it's good. It's like regular Gatorade, but with more electrolytes."
For seven dollars and fifty cents! Are you kidding me? For that, it should not only contain electrolytes, it should contain sweat from Tiger!
Now I have heard of athletes endorsing Gatorade, like Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, Derek Jeter, and the Manning brothers, but I have never heard of one actually named after an athlete.
"C'mon fella, you're holding up the line!" barked the guy behind me.
A golfer has a sports drink named after him with extra electrolytes?
"You sound shocked?"
I am. But golfers don't sweat that much. I replied
"Remember Arnold Palmer?"
Sure, he's the King!
"He's a golfer, and has a drink named after him- Half lemonade and half iced tea."
Yeah. Sure, an Arnold Palmer. I guess you're right; I'll take a green one--- it matches his green jacket.
"What's in Gatorade Tiger?" the intern asked.
"Carbohydrates, electrolytes, some vitamins and minerals," she rattled off.
Could you be more specific? I asked.
"It says here, it's a low calorie, low sugar sports beverage that contains filtered Augusta Rae's Creek water, 18 vitamins including vitamins, A, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, Caffeine, and a couple I've never herd of--- Augusta and vitamin B Great!
"It say's here, that every cup of Gatorade Tiger has been blended to help you concentrate, instill confidence and brings out the competitor in you."
Did you say, "Every cup?" Aren't they sold in bottles or cans?
"I guess it's a symbolic, psychological thing. Just like the directions on the cup: Do not refrigerate, keep hot! Do not shake or stir, fist pump only!"
"I suppose, when you open up a cup of Gatorade Tiger you hear a ???roar,' instead of a pop, like a regular can," chuckled Carl.
Do any of the other players on tour drink his drink? I asked.
"You better hurry up and order sir, Trevor Immelman just popped open the last can!"
Copyright 2008 Steve Kay