Based on Tiger Woods‘ publicly-expressed disdain for the media outlets that blew the whistle on his serial infidelity, it’s a pretty good bet that he’s returning to golf at The Masters because he’ll have complete, personal control over who will be allowed on the Augusta National grounds. (Regardless of what Masters officials will state publicly.)
(3-months-rent deposit policy finally pays off?)
In other words, the only way for outlets like TMZ.com to cover the week’s festivities will be to smuggle a reporter and/or photographer in via spectator badge or sneak onto the grounds. Ironic considering the very outlets responsible for insane interest in the event won’t be allowed to cover it.
I’ve attended The Masters as a fan and even before this year’s event can attest that Augusta National has the tightest oversight on spectators I’ve ever experienced at a major sporting event. That includes the Super Bowl and the World Cup. If TMZ and other outlets do end up spending thousands on Masters badges, I think there’s a reasonable chance those staffers will be found out and barred per Woods.
So that leaves one option: Sneaking on to Augusta National.
Impossible? If you believe a PGA Tour pro’s on the record account, absolutely not.
Former PGA Tour pro Taylor Smith, who passed away in 2007, detailed to Mike Stachura of Golf Digest in April, 1999, how he once snuck on to Augusta National completely undetected.
It was August 1985 when he returned to begin fall practice with the golf team, but before he got on campus, before he went out to the team’s home course, before he met the coach, Smith made a slight detour.
He turned down Washington Road past the famous entrance and then made a left on a street that frames the northern boundary of the course. About a mile down the road are the Village Green apartments. From there, it’s a walk of about 150 yards to Augusta National’s back gate. Even now, Smith is a little afraid of telling this story:
“I parked my car in the lot at the apartments and walked down Rae’s Creek. This was during the summer, when the course was closed, and the greens were probably three inches high. There was no sand in the bunkers — they were just totally bare, with mats in there like they put a tarp or something over them.
“The grass on the tee boxes was real high, too, and there was no water in the creek in front of 12; it was totally drained and full of mud. You could see balls lying in there.”
Of course Smith’s story by no means indicates that a similar ploy will be possible the second week of April. Smith snuck on when The Masters wasn’t being played. Obviously there will be considerable security guarding the grounds that week. (If successful, it’ll be over a fence, not through any gate.)
Not to mention that the Village Green Apartments Smith referred to no longer exist, with the buildings having been recently razed and the lot cleared. Though there is still an adjacent apartment complex, Willow Ridge, just across the street from the course. (Paparazzo HQ perhaps?)
If Woods keeps his itinerary secret the days leading up to Masters week, I do think you will see some of the more ruthless paparazzi outfits attempt to crash the course for some candids of him. But if Woods is transparent about his whereabouts, I doubt many of the same outlets that broke the story will even attempt to gain access to The Masters.
An airport ambush and/or appearance by Elin outside the grounds is probably the best any gossip outlet can hope for that week.
Though I’ll be rooting for helicopters and as much random distraction as possible to aggravate Billy Payne & Co. For all The Masters has provided Woods, you would’ve thought he’d have spared Augusta National the indignity of staging the impending three ring circus.
They truly deserve each other.