Don Lively





A strange phenomenon occurs around these parts every year in early April. It descends

with plenty of fanfare. It affects people who normally do not participate in the activity that is at the center of the phenomenon. I’d venture to guess that ninety percent of the population around here give very little thought to it during the other fifty-one weeks.

I’m not referring to Spring Break for the local schools. Every student and every teacher knows exactly when that begins and they look forward to it for weeks if not months. It’s no accident however that Spring Break coincides with the other activity.

No, it’s not the annual respite from classes that I’m referring to, it’s more a respite from sanity.

I’m talking about golf.

The Masters.

The premier tournament of the entire golf world has come and gone once again. Gone but not forgotten. For one week Augusta becomes the center of the universe for duffers everywhere. People who never pick up a club become fans.

Some who could no more read a green than they could read hieroglyphics, some such as me, keep up with which player is ahead at the end of each day and who is the favorite to win in all.

The Masters becomes the main topic of conversations everywhere.

"Can Tiger win his fifth?" " How will the weather affect play?"

" Will any new young players emerge and make a run?"

"How can I make money off of the tournament?"

Oh yes, a few dollars do change hands during the week of the Masters.

I play golf, poorly, maybe once a year but even I understand the economic impact the Masters has on the area. Many people I know have taken good paying part time jobs during the week. Others leave town for several days and lease their homes to out of towners. Hotel rooms, if you can find one, cost five times as much as normal.

It seems that everybody benefits from the influx of huge crowds into the counties around Augusta.

This year, for the first time, I made money too.

I got up early on the morning of my birthday. It was one of those milestone birthdays, the ones that end in zero or five. Not being a morning person, I was moving slowly trying to wake up. It occurred to me that I had reached an age when I was entitled to a mid life crisis, which is to say that I needed to buy a "toy". After all, I’d retired from the police department nearly two years before and had not rewarded myself for a job well done so, now was the time for indulgence.

It was the perfect excuse to spend some money that would have been better off remaining unspent, but the temptation was strong. The only question was, which toy? A boat? A motorcycle? Maybe a jet ski?

I settled on a new ATV. A four-wheeler. My old one has been stolen and recovered twice and was trashed both times, so, even though it still runs fine, I decided that it was time to retire it and get another.

I admit that I was struggling with the idea of spending as much money as I knew that the machine would cost and the phrase " Get thee hence Satan" popped into my mind more than once. But in the end I talked myself into it.

With new resolve I showered and dressed and prepared to head north to Augusta. Polaris dealership here I come!

As I got ready I idly flipped on the TV. That was either a mistake or providence.

An announcer blared " It’s opening day at Augusta National. The Masters has begun"!

Opening day? Today? The ATV place is on Washington Road. Isn’t that close to The National? I remembered having gotten caught up in the Masters traffic once years before. Do you really want to fight that TODAY? Nope, I’d rather have a sharp stick in the eye.

Sanity returned. I got undressed and went back to bed.

That’s how I made money off of the Masters Tournament.

Well, okay, I didn’t exactly make money. But I didn’t spend any either.

Later, after the milestone birthday had passed, and my mind was clearer I realized without question, that my old ATV was good enough and I did not need to spend money on a new one. Those dollars could be spent in a much more sensible way.

On a boat maybe. After the Masters.

This is going to be the best mid life crisis I’ve ever had.

Don Lively is a retired police officer and freelance writer. He spends his time between Shell Bluff and Charleston. Send comments or questions to [email protected].

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