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Posted April 06, 2019 03:04 pm

Women's amateur brings family pilgrimage to Augusta National

  • Article Photos
    Photos description

    Maja Stark gets a hug as she walks down the No. 1 fairway during the Augusta National Women's Amateur on Saturday. [MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

  • Article Photos
    Photos description

    Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson signs autographs for patrons on Saturday at the Augusta National Golf Club. [MICHAEL HOLAHAN/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

The inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur brought a family to tears Saturday.

Brett Baldwin began crying as he discussed the chance to visit Augusta National with his daughter Clara Baldwin and watch her witness history.

“It’s great, I’m glad I could bring her to it,” Brett said with tears flowing down his cheeks. “Hopefully it inspires her.”

Diane Baldwin drove 18 hours with her son Brett and granddaughter Clara, from Mora, Minn., to experience the women’s amateur.

Becky Hatton, Diane’s daughter, flew from Denver to Minneapolis to meet up with her fellow family members for the road trip.

The Denver resindent said she and her family never thought visiting Augusta National would be possible growing up in such a small town. Three generations of the family were in attendance.

“It’s been fantastic,” Hatton said. “It’s definitely something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was little. I’ve been golfing since I was five, so this is a life-long dream come true.”

Ten-year-old Clara, who regularly watches golf with Brett on television, happily showed off her Masters collared shirt. She said she felt fortunate to be able to attend the tournament.

“Just being here, it looks so pretty and so cool,” Clara said. “There are so many people here and you just never thought you’d be one of them.”

Dianne and her son have been applying for Masters tickets for years. When they heard about the women’s amateur, they applied and got four tickets.

“When you see it on TV you get a little picture here and there,” Dianne said. “Here, you see the whole thing and it’s marvelous.”

Hatton said she and her family’s main goal is to soak in the experience.

“Enjoy it as much as we possibly can and probably leave when they kick us out,” an emotional Hatton said.

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Fox Creek High School golf teammates Caroline Heath and Lindsey Yann were in attendance Saturday.

“I think it’s really cool to watch the tournament because it’s the first time the women have an opportunity to play this course,” Heath, 14, said.

Heath shared that one day she would like play in the tournament.

“Since I’m a golfer myself, I just think it’s amazing to see all these girls out here and to see all of the work they’ve put in to be this successful,” an inspired Heath said. “Even though they’re amateurs, they’ll be going somewhere.”

Yann and Heath, who live in North Augusta, said they were looking forward to watching all the different golfers. Although, both of them said that the one player they wanted to follow the most was Kaitlyn Papp.

“She’s an inspiration to me,” Heath said. “I hope that I can get my swing as smooth as hers one day. She’s so positive and care free. She just goes out there and does what she wants.”

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For Anna Shepherd, the tournament was an ideal event for some mother-daughter bonding.

The Augustan said the tournament brings diversity and people together. Accompanying her was her 12-year-old daughter, Zaylee Williams.

“I’m pretty excited because I’ve never been here before,” Williams said with a smile on her face. “I can’t wait to see the women play because I’ve only seen men do it.”