Dave McAtee has experienced The Masters before as a fan. This year, though, the head
professional at Helfrich Hills Golf Course and rules chairman for the
Evansville Courier & Press Men's City Golf Tournament is taking his
Masters experience to a whole new level. He's an official participant as a rules official.
McAtee has helped with
pretournament preparations and even got to attend a reception Wednesday
evening in the Augusta National clubhouse accompanied by his wife,
"The hair stands up on the
back of my neck when I drive down Magnolia Lane," said McAtee from
Augusta. "Whoever thought a boy from the West Side of Evansville would
ever get the call to come here. It's just unbelievable to me."
The invitation actually came
by email in mid December from David Price, the senior national rules
chairman for the PGA of America.
"The Masters invites seven
guys from the PGA of America every year," said McAtee. "That's normally
the four senior committee members and three others, which included me
this year. I'm honored and humbled to be here."
McAtee will have a different hole assignment for each day of the tournament after his official duties began Tuesday.
"They entrusted us to mark
the hazards on the golf course," said McAtee. "The tournament is the
only time all year they mark the hazards with red and yellow paint
because the membership doesn't need them.
"It gives you a perspective
of the golf course you can't get behind the ropes (for fans). We got to
mark every hole with water on it including Rae's Creek at Nos. 12 and
13. At No. 12 (the short, lake-shot par-3) we even got to go green side
where fans can't go.
"I'm a golf history nut, so
when you're here you can't help but think you're walking in the
footsteps of Hogan, Sneed, Palmer and Nicklaus. It's hallowed ground,
unlike any place I've ever been."
Today McAtee will be at hole
No. 5, a 455-yard par-4; Friday at No. 10, a 495-yard par-4; Saturday at
Nos. 8 (570-yard par-5) and 9 (460-yard par-4) and Sunday at the
170-yard par-3 16th.
"I'm really excited about
Sunday," said McAtee. "That can be such a pivotal hole. The truth is,
though, you hope you're never needed because you're not part of the
event. You're only there to assist the player even if it is from a great
Wednesday McAtee got to walk the entire course inside the ropes.
"It gives you a better sense
of the course and tournament," he said. "I'm proud to be here
representing Helfrich and City golf. It makes me appreciate the people
who helped me along this path like Bob Walther and the great
championship we have in the City Tournament."