News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, April 6, 2011
AUGUSTA---One of the things that makes Augusta National so special is that it can be full of surprises...big ones and little ones.
Four-year-old Miranda Dunn of Ann Arbor, Michigan has a spring in her step as she makes her way to the world's most famous golf course. She knows exactly what she's here to see.
"The Masters," she said.
And she knows what driving means: "Hitting the ball real hard!"
But she's still got a few things to learn about the game. "If they get it in the sand or the water, a shark might eat the water," she giggled.
"A shark might eat it," her mom played along.
Miranda won't see any of those things today, but she might see a Tiger. And Augusta National hopes she does. The most exclusive golf course in the world is working hard to be more inclusive when it comes to kids.
Kids have their own autograph section. It's roped off and guarded. No one older than 16 is allowed, which surprised some of golf's youngest fans.
"I didn't think we'd get right here in front of them and get to talk to them actually," said Jack Futch of Lawrenceville, Georgia.
And from the look of all the signatures we saw, the golfers are really signing off on Augusta National's efforts to be more kid-friendly. They know some of these kids are here for more than just autographs.
"I'm a big golf fan," said Ryan Johnston of St. Simons. "I like watching the players' form, and it's really fun to see what I'm doing wrong and they are doing right."
But it's not just the golfers. It's the course. It's the famous scoreboard they've seen on TV. These picture-perfect memories are priceless.
This is a day Miranda's family will never forget.
"That would be silly," Miranda laughs.
After all, sometimes it's the littlest people who get the biggest kick out of the Masters.
Even the pro shop is kid-friendly. Augusta National makes sure even babies can sport the Masters logo.
The Junior Pass program starts tomorrow. Every patron with a badget who registered ahead of time can bring a child with them. When the National started that tradition a few years ago, we here at News 12 really noticed more kids on the course.
It used to be that once Tournament play started, the kids disappeared, but not anymore. That seems to be exactly the way the National wants it. These youngest fans are the future, and they know that.