— Sports

The home of the Masters is a draw for basketball’s best, too

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) – It was April 7, 2003. Exactly 18 years ago Wednesday, Syracuse defeated Kansas to win the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. The biggest win in school history, the biggest in the Hall of Fame career of Orange coach Jim Boeheim.

A couple of hours after the game ended, Boeheim made a phone call.

Even after the biggest win of his life, Augusta National was on his mind. “I had a deal with a guy that if we won the national championship, he’d get me onto Augusta National,” Boeheim said. “It was like 3 in the morning, right after the championship game, and we called to make sure it would happen.”

And it did.

This is the lure of Augusta National. If you find your way onto the grounds – either as a patron for the Masters or in the even smaller club of people who can say that they played the course – it’s a memory for life. And in recent years, basketball coaches and players seem to have become particularly fond of the chance to be where the Master happens.


“It’s a special place, obviously,” said Golden State guard Stephen Curry, who has played Augusta National several times. “There’s a lot of history there. You get to watch the tournament yearly; you feel like you know every hole if you’ve been there before. And if you get to play it, having that experience and walking those same grounds is even more special.”

Curry half-seriously considered walking off Augusta after his first hole there; he made birdie, so he technically could have said for the rest of his life that he was under par on the course where they play the Masters.

To him, Augusta has “a majestic nature.”It’s pretty awesome,” Curry said.

The Warriors don’t have a game Thursday, so Curry will get to watch a good deal of the first round, at least. And he won’t be the only NBA guy finding time to watch plenty of golf throughout the rest of this week, either.

Disney World with a pass and no other people there, no lines to wait in and free food and free toys and gifts,” Miami forward Andre Iguodala said playfully because he didn’t want to come out and confirm that he’s played Augusta National. “That’s what it’s like … I would imagine.”

Iguodala has played there; the 2015 NBA Finals MVP for Golden State got on with Curry and some other members of the Warriors’ organization on an off day a few years ago. Iguodala left with such respect for the course that he even changed how he practices golf; he’s tried to find ways to account for uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies, which are all part of the charm and challenge at the Masters.

“You have a lot of respect for guys who win that tournament,” Iguodala said, noting that nobody has a lucky win at Augusta National. “You’ve got to go get it.”

For some in basketball, Augusta National is a place to compete.

For at least one other, it was a place to contemplate whether a career should end. Last week, Roy Williams retired as North Carolina’s coach after 18 seasons with the Tar Heels and three national championships.

He prepared to tell his team and the rest of the world the news by coming to Augusta National and playing 36 holes. And even at the news conference where he made it official, he publicly and proudly pointed out what he had done at the home of the Masters, that he shot 88 one day, 87 the next, and finished with pars on five of his final six holes.

“Between every shot, I wasn’t thinking about hitting the golf ball,” Williams said. “I was thinking about how I would tell my players and get through this press conference. So, I knew then that if you can’t even think about golf when you’re at Augusta National, the decision I felt about not being the right person any longer was pretty much confirmed.”

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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