Originally created 06/27/99

Golf notebook



This is a true story about how to get a free Masters Tournament badge. The scam won't work again, not after this article is printed.

For one day anyway, someone beat the system at the Augusta National Golf Club.

It happened at the 1997 Masters. The parties involved are only telling it now because some time has passed since it happened.

To set the scene, tournament badges were in great demand on the black market in 1997 because Tiger Woods was making his professional debut in the tournament, which he went on to win.

The party in question consists of three Englishmen and one New Zealander. They had four tickets for the Wednesday practice round, but just one badge for Sunday's final round.

At first, the plan was to share the Sunday badge, with each person going in for a couple of hours to see the action.

Then, they came up with an idea they hoped would land them a free badge. On Sunday, one person in the party went in with the badge. He then gave it to an acquaintance of theirs who lived in the house next to the one they were renting and just happened to work at Augusta National.

The Augusta National employee went out the gate and gave the badge to another person in the party. They both came back in because the Augusta National employee didn't need a tournament badge to return.

Now, there were two men from the party on the grounds, but one no longer had a badge. As they walked into the outdoor golf shop behind the fifth green, a Pinkerton asked the Englishman where his badge was. Thinking quickly, he said he had lost it.

It made some sense because the Pinkerton at the outdoor golf shop noticed the two pinhole marks where the badge had been.

The Englishman was taken to a security office. He was told to report to the main tournament office to see if anyone had turned in his "lost" badge. Of course, there was no badge.

The Englishman pleaded his case, pointing out he came all the way from England to see the tournament. Asked for the serial number of the badge, he said he didn't know because everything had been set up for him ahead of time.

At first, the security guard said there was nothing he could do for him because he did not have a badge. The security guard disappeared for five minutes, then returned and said, "OK, please follow me. Let me see what I can do."

The security guard disappeared again and returned with a coveted Masters badge. The security guard gave him the badge and said "have a nice day and don't lose this one."

Our friend now had a badge, but had no idea where his friend who has the party's original badge was on the course. Amazingly, they ran into each other minutes later walking down a service road.

"He told me he thought one of two things had happened -- I had been arrested and handcuffed and was on my way to jail, or I had somehow done the impossible and talked my way into a badge," the Englishman said.

The two men's first stop was the outdoor golf shop behind the fifth green, where the Pinkerton had first noticed the Englishman didn't have a badge.

"Look," he told the guard, "they found my badge."

OPTIMIST INTERNATIONAL: Augusta's Cary Crawford, a 14-year-old rising sophomore at A.R. Johnson, has qualified to play in the Optimist International Tournament. It is scheduled for next month in West Palm Beach, Fla.

FATHER-DAUGHTER: Augusta's Wren Peterson teamed with her 81-year-old father, Soldier Sanders, to win the first flight of the Asheville (N.C.) Parks and Recreation's Father-Daughter tournament at the Buncombe County Municipal course. They shot 77-70 -- 147 in the captain's choice event. Peterson's father lives in Cherokee, N.C.

Holes-in-one

SAVANNAH PINES PAR 3: Michael Hubbard, a 13-year-old from North Augusta, aced the 145-yard ninth hole at the course formerly known as the Operations Recreation Association Par 3 Course, located near the Savannah River Site. Hubbard used a 3-wood for his ace, which was witnessed by Mike Hubbard, Debbie Hubbard, Tom Felak, Fran Felak and Bill Arra.

NORTH AUGUSTA CC: Fred Cooper aced the 155-yard second hole with a 5-iron shot. The witnesses were Andy Barnes and Andrew Barnes.

Buddy Werts also aced No. 2, with a 9-iron shot. His witnesses were Sonny Godwin, John Bodie and Dale Slack.

GOSHEN: Eydie Jones, one of the top women golfers in the area, aced the 120-yard 14th hole with a 7-iron shot. Her witnesses were Pat Bragan and Ethleen Scarborough.

BELLE MEADE: Dexter Lovins aced the 120-yard 17th hole with a pitching wedge shot. The witnesses were Jimmy Howard, Floyd Simons and Bud Muller.Double eagle

BELLE MEADE: Jay Blackburn made a double eagle on the 528-yard fourth hole. He hit a driver off the tee, then holed out a 3-iron shot.Eagles on par 4s

CEDAR CREEK: Frank Sprowls eagled the sixth hole, knocking in a 5-iron shot from 170 yards out. The witnesses were Chuck Bissell and Brent Gosneigh.

AUGUSTA CC: Chuck Baldwin III eagled the 420-yard third hole, knocking in a 4-iron shot from 190 yards out. His father, Chuck Baldwin Jr., also had an eagle on a par-4 this year. It happened in March when Baldwin holed out a wedge from 110 yards out on the 344-yard eighth hole at the Golf Club of Georgia in Alpharetta.