Green jacket oh so close...

Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
Back in my CNN days, I got to report on the Masters at Augusta.

My very first trip down Magnolia Lane was in 1997 and it couldn’t have been a more eventful debut.

The late Jim Huber was my mentor and there couldn’t have been a better educator to learn the ropes from.

But I was still very naive.

There I was under the tree in front of the Augusta clubhouse, interviewing Fuzzy Zoeller when out jumped the infamous remarks about Tiger Woods, serving “friend chicken and collard greens” at the champions dinner.

At the time, I thought nothing of it until the producer was going through the tape and came across what was deemed to be a very racist comment.

To this day, I think Fuzzy is still paying for his ill-advised comments.

There is just no place for racism in sport and it was a very good lesson learned early on in my journalism career.

I will also never forget my very first live crossing from the first fairway on the Tuesday during the practice round. I was as nervous as anything but the ice was broken by a couple South Africans who walked by (after a day of Budweisers) and said, “Hey look there’s Graeme Joffe - he doesn’t look too bad with make-up on”.

If only I kept the make-up on that night, maybe I would be married with kids already! 

The night life in Augusta is as good as anywhere else and my initiation was drinks with Ernie Els’s caddie Ricci Roberts in one of the locals.

I thought I handled the initiation fairly well only to get back to CNN in Atlanta on the Tuesday after the tournament to find a photograph of myself, holding up the cigarette vending machine in the pub.

Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed.

Why I only got back on the Tuesday was because I got to play the course, yes Augusta National on the Monday after the tournament.

Yes, I know a lot of golfers are now hating me.

It’s been a Masters tradition for years that they do a media lottery during the tournament and around 50 journalists get to the play the course on the Monday.

So, there was Joffers on the first tee at Augusta National on the Monday, hoping to win the green jacket.

First hole. Par 4: topped the drive 160m down the left, second shot a 5-iron into the trees on the left, third shot a punch to the front of the green and a 3-putt for a double bogey six.
92 blows later, my green jacket dreams were smashed.

It was an unbelievable experience just to play the course and even more amazing is that I can remember all 92 shots.    

That’s what makes Augusta so special is every hole is worth remembering even if you’re making a big number.

The club tees are a lot further forward than the tournament tees but we still had the Sunday pin positions.

My shot of the day: From the right bunker on the par-3 16th to within a couple feet for par. (I gave myself the putt).

So, ended my first Masters in the same year Tiger won his first major by a whopping 12 shots. 

Still feels like yesterday.

*It has been an extremely tough week and a roller coaster of emotions but I look forward to seeing Sascoc in court.

I have entered an appearance to defend the R21.1 million defamation lawsuit and the case is now with my attorneys.

There’s so much I want to share but I guess it will all have to wait for the court case and from next week, I’ll have my mo-jo back to write about the sad state of affairs in SA sports administration.

Email Graeme at:

Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 869 and streaming worldwide on Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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