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AUTHOR : CHARLIE EPPS

author-charlie eppsKnown as "The Golf Doctor," Charlie Epps has been one of Houston's most respected PGA professionals for 30 years. He is the Director of Golf at Redstone Golf Club, home of the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open.

Epps teaches two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and second-year Tour player Bobby Gates. Listen to Epps 9-10 a.m. Saturday mornings on Yahoo! Sports Radio on 1560 AM in Houston, channel 127 pm Sirius satellite and 242 XM.

He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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My Madien Voyage to August National

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 April 2009.

You might not believe it, but this is a true story.

One Friday afternoon I received a call from a member of Augusta National. It was the kind of phone call you don't forget. The man said, "Charlie, why don't you get a couple of friends together and come down and play Augusta on Monday."

That would be Monday, the day after the final round of The Masters. I still had never been to Augusta...and to protect the not-so-innocent, I can't tell you the names of most of the people involved in this story or the year it happened.

Upon hanging up the phone, as you can imagine, it felt like Christmas Eve. Two phone calls later—my buddies didn't say, "Yes;" they said, "Hell, yes!"—we were ready to go. We left Houston Intercontinental for the promised land that Sunday evening. We arrived in Augusta, Ga., and were picked up at the airport in a green van adorned with the Masters logo.

As we drove down Magnolia Lane at about 8:30 p.m., it was a feeling like no other. It was dark, but you could still see the Magnolia trees. We were greeted by our host as we exited the van, and they took us right to the dining room to have dinner. Dining under the picture of President Eisenhower and looking across the room at Bobby Jones' famous portrait is another experience in and of itself. Simply unbelievable.

After a delicious Southern meal, finishing with peach cobbler a la mode, our host asked us if we wanted to see "the grounds." So with an after dinner drink in hand, we walked outside to a beautiful moonlight evening. The moonlight was as bright as I could ever remember seeing it. We went by Butler Cabin. Through the trees, we could see the par-3 course, which is behind the cabins.

We proceeded to the Bobby Jones cabin, adjacent to the 10th tee. That's where we were to spend the night. Our host left us, and my buddies and I couldn't believe what we were about to do. We said good night and each went to our bedrooms.

As you can imagine, I couldn't sleep. I got up and went outside into the evening. The moonlight was still bright, maybe brighter than it had been an hour earlier. Looking around, I could actually hear the roars from past Masters Tournaments.

I was standing on the 10th tee, overlooking the 18th green, and I said to myself, "I gotta go wake up my buddies." I wanted to go putt under the moonlight at 1 o'clock in the morning.

To no surprise, my friends couldn't sleep, either. So we went to the putting green and hoped that Mr. Clifford Roberts (the Augusta National chairman at the time) wouldn't wake up and kick us out. About a quarter to 2 a.m., I looked down the 18th fairway, and I told my guys, "Let's go for a little walk."

It was so eerie. The moon lit up everything. We walked down 18, over to No. 10 green, down No. 11 and we stood on the 12th tee at a quarter to 3 in the morning. We imagined what Nicklaus might have felt on the 12th tee a day earlier.

We decided it was time to go back and try to get a little sleep for the next day's experience. As we walked up from Rae's Creek, all we could talk about were the famous golf shots Sazaren, Hogan and Bobby Jones himself hit there. We get back to the cabin, and about 3:15, we couldn't believe what we had just done—and that we hadn't been caught!

We got up at 6:15 on Monday morning. We swore to secrecy that we'd never tell this story. We had breakfast—at Augusta, you have grits, red-eyed gravy and ham. From there, we played 36 holes of golf. We had more fun and laughed...and to this day, the night before was the most fun I've ever had at 3 o'clock in the morning.

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