Masters moment: Great pal outside the ropes
AUGUSTA, Ga. There are endless possibilities for viewing the spectacle that is the Masters and annually I visit my favorites. The top row of the grandstands at the Nos. 13 and 15 greens are a given, and it wouldn’t be the Masters if I didn’t spend an hour or so Friday at the media perch between the Nos. 9 and 18 greens, or early Saturday at the No. 12 tee.
A hidden gem? That would be the grandstands behind the No. 8 green, but usually not until Saturday. Thursday? I’ve been accustomed to that walk to watch early action at the No. 4 green, then meander along with a few groups to the quietest corner of the course, the No. 5 green.
But at some point Thursday, likely in the afternoon, I will pay homage to a friend whose spirit for golf, for life, for laughter touched me deeply. Simply put, John Mineck was the greatest man I ever met and the times spent with him were some of the happiest of my life – be it a boat ride to Fisher’s Island, walks through muddy woods at what would be his Boston Golf Club, or dawn-to-dusk amateur tournaments in Massachusetts that afforded us the chance to vent at people who called them “pins” when they were, in fact, “hole locations.”
It was the Masters, however, where John shined brightest when he would visit. And oh, how he made that April week even more special. I carried a notebook for my stories, he possessed an encyclopedic mind and that absorbed every nuance of the tournament. We would share our thoughts and exchange opinions down there at the bend in the No. 13 fairway, where he would set up his chairs for incredible viewing. You could see drives coming right at you from some 300 yards away and then you had a sensational vantage point to watch attempts to reach in two.
When I wondered how it is he had his seats so beautifully situated in the front row, round after round, year after year, John would smile. He had figured a way, which was no surprise to me. He was the ultimate renaissance man., resourceful and inventive.
Me? I still can’t figure out how to stop missing him, so I gave up trying. I’ll tell him, too, when I get to the bend at 13 this year and stand where we used to sit.