BADGE OF HONOR

March 31, 1997

I received the invitation to play in my first Masters about a
month ago. What made it special was what came with it: a ticket
request form. I have to pay $100 apiece for tickets, which was a
surprise. There were eight spaces on the form, so I sent in for
eight tickets, not realizing that I could have asked for more.
Now everyone at my brother's pool hall in Cape Coral, Fla., is
asking for one. I've been saying, "O.K., you're the 31st
alternate, you're 32nd and you're 33rd." They're not impressed.
That happens to Masters rookies who don't know the ins and outs.

I had no idea that getting housing would be so hard. There are
big price differences based on how many bedrooms there are and
the home's distance from the course. From the prices (up to
$10,000) I assume some houses are gold-plated. At first I told
my manager to go for a place within four miles of the National,
but then you've got a 45-minute commute. So I'm paying an extra
$1,000 to be within a mile.

I asked my manager to find a house with hardwood floors so I
could practice my putting. When I played Augusta for the first
time, in November, the greens were scary. I've been watching the
Golf Channel whenever it replays an old Masters, and you can
pretty much see which way the putts will break. But I have also
noticed that guys who've been back for the tournament 25 times
can't always read the putts, so how the heck am I going to? I'm
a little bit nervous about those greens. I played a tournament
in college on a course with the same kinds of greens and had a
five-putt, a handful of four-putts, 25 three-putts and only one
one-putt the entire week. And this time, there'll be people
watching!

Before November I had been to Augusta once--for the final round
of the '86 Masters, when I was in college. I was as naive as
could be and in total awe. That's when I knew I had to become a
pro golfer. To me, everything was summed up by the fact that a
little patch of clover in the 1st fairway had been marked as
ground under repair. When I went back in November, one of the
superintendents and I searched everywhere for a weed but
couldn't find one. Not in the pine straw or deep in the bushes
or among the azaleas. There are no weeds. None. I really wanted
to pull one up and take it home as a souvenir.

I got excited about the Masters in October when I learned I was
definitely going. I hadn't realized that by finishing third at
the PGA I was automatically in. I found out at Disney that I'd
been in since August, and all I could think was, "Wow, I've got
an invitation and didn't even know it." I had my head in the
clouds all week, and the next thing I knew, I'd missed the cut.

It should be an interesting week. I just hope it's not an
embarrassing one.

Tommy Tolles jumped from 116th to 16th on the money list in '96.

COLOR PHOTO [Masters tournament ticket]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)