Masters 2014: Trip of a Lifetime by Arlen Bento
This story was written by USGTF member Arlen Bento from Jensen Beach, Florida. Bento is also a member of the USGTF’s newly formed coaches division, the World Golf Coaches Alliance. Bento is the head golf coach at the Pine High School in Stuart and the team recently won their district championship. He also coaches Shannon Aubert, Florida state high school girls champion. For their accomplishments, the entire team was presented with tickets from Arnold Palmer to the 2014 Masters. Bento and his players were hosted by Hollis Cavner, president of Pro Links Sports and father of golf team member Carson Cavner. The following is a recap of their trip.
Friday – We Leave for the Masters!
I met the players from my golf team at the JetWay in Stuart, Florida, at 12:30 p.m. for our private jet trip to the Masters. It was my first time flying private, so I was very excited about the trip. My players arrived within a few minutes, and by 12:45 we were in the air on our way to Georgia. The jet was gorgeous. I was informed it was a Challenger, with room for 12 and a flying range from the east coast of the USA to Europe with no problem. The plane was very fast, 550 mph.
We made Georgia within an hour and fi fteen minutes from Stuart.
Augusta National was about 15 minutes away from the airport, and we were taken to our guest home where we would be staying for the weekend. After a quick tour of the magnificent home, we had a quick snack and headed to the course. It was about 3:30 when we got there. The tournament was in full swing, with most players still on the course, and a lot of fans watching all the action.
Now, you hear stories from people about the first time they have been to the Masters. They all tell you how perfectly manicured the course looks, how green, how tall the trees are, how still the water is on the ponds, and everything is so perfect. You hear about the hills, the roar of the crowd, the smell of the flowers and the pines. Words cannot describe what the sensation is in person when you go to the Masters. It was beautiful, gorgeous, green, rolling, shaped, manicured – unbelievable!
As we made our way along #13, we ran into Claude Harmon. He was following one of his tour players that he coaches who was playing #13, Gary Woodland. It was really good to see Claude. He said hello to all the players, asking about our trip. Claude has taken a liking to our team and works with our players at our practices at Hobe Sound, Florida, and was going to give us some insight into the tournament. Claude lives in our area and teaches golf at the Floridian Golf Club in Stuart.
Saturday – Moving Day at the Masters
After breakfast, we again stopped by the golf shop. Players were picking up souvenirs and mementos from their trip. After storing their goodies in the gift shop storage, we headed to the tournament. By this time, we were already at 11 in the morning. Tee times for the weekend start late at the Masters, so the leaders were not even on the course.
For our players, the look of the course seemed playable, but as we saw the best players in the world three-putting and four-putting, we all realized how tough the greens were on the course.
We all made it to the clubhouse by 1:00 pm and were greeted by Carson’s parents, Hollis Cavner and his wife. We followed them around the clubhouse to Butler Cabin, where Jim Nantz presents the Masters winner with the coveted Green Jacket. To our surprise, we were going to get a tour of Butler Cabin from no less than Jim Nantz himself.
We made our way into a small entrance; the cabin is not big at all where they do the presentation. On one side it was rustic with a large fi replace, leather chairs; we all recognized the look. On the other side was all the production equipment, cameras, and computers – all the things that were needed for the telecast.
Nantz was great. He introduced himself to all the players, had some conversations with all of us, and gave a quick history of the cabin. After a couple of minutes, we all got to take a picture in the chairs and a group photo with Jim. As Jim put on his jacket for the picture, confetti fell out of his pockets. He chuckled, because he had been at the NCAA college basketball championships on Monday and the confetti was still in his jacket. Pretty funny! After our Butler Cabin tour, we split up into a few groups to walk the back nine of the course.
Sunday – Masters Final Round
We had a treat the last morning of our visit: We were all going to get to drive down Magnolia Lane to see the clubhouse entrance, the cabins, and the par-3 course. Magnolia Lane has ultra-tight security and there is absolutely no stopping. We rode in two cars with special passes to drive down Magnolia. Like a lot of our experience, Magnolia Lane was beautiful, with large trees forming a perfect tunnel that opens to the beautiful clubhouse with the iconic yellow flowered logo of the Masters. We were able to get a couple of snapshots of the clubhouse, cabins, and the par-3 course.
As we made our way through security, we had a special member greeting people at the entrance – Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state and member of Augusta National. Ms. Rice was very gracious, introducing herself to all of us, shaking our hands. Shannon Aubert, our state champion girl player, had a nice conversation with Ms. Rice about Stanford. Shannon had accepted a full golf scholarship to Stanford, where Ms. Rice is a professor. Ms. Rice told Shannon to make sure she takes her lecture class and Shannon said maybe she will. Pretty special stuff!
Our Masters experience was complete, a trip of a lifetime, memories that will last with all of us forever. Thank you Augusta National, Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Cavner!