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Masters memories: Hilands golf pro Eddie Kavran recalls 3 trips

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Posted at 6:12 AM, Apr 09, 2021

BILLINGS -- Attending The Masters is a bucket-list item. Most golf fanatics will never be able to check it off. It sometimes feels easier to get Super Bowl tickets.

Unless you're a golf course superintendent or you've earned a professional PGA card like Eddie Kavran at Hilands Golf Club in Billings.

"That's one of the perks of our business, one of only the few," Kavran told MTN Sports with a smile and Round 1 of The Masters on TV in the background.

It's as easy as that. You have a PGA card, you're in. Every day of the tournament, if you wish. No advanced notice, no letters of request.

"Pros and superintendents, it's pretty slick," Kavran explained of the entry process. "You've got all the lines and everything and we kind of go to the right, show them your pass. They give us a pass, you walk in and you're there for the day."

It sounds like a ride pass at Disneyland. Go as many days as you'd like.

Of course, tickets to The Masters aren't actually called tickets. They're badges, and Kavran has a nicely framed collection from his 2012 trip hanging in his office.

Kavran's impression from that eye-opening trip? Drastic angulation on greens and in fairways hard to notice on TV. And everything is green. Everything.

"Wrappers for the sandwiches are green, the wraps, if it rains at all, the paths ... they put down green sand," Kavran said. "Restrooms, concession stands, you don't see one of those when you're watching it on TV."

Kavran has seen his share of tournaments in person but says The Masters has no equal, right down to politeness among patrons.

"You buy a chair and if I want to go sit behind No. 7, I get out there early in the morning, set my chair down in a spot and usually have my name or business card there. I can leave and come back, and someone might be sitting there. I can say, 'Hey, that's my seat,' and they gladly get up and move. It's a pretty neat deal," he said.

He's becoming a Masters expert. Kavran has been there not once, not twice, but three times.

"I went in 2012, 2015 and 2019," he said of witnessing three jaw-dropping winners. "Bubba (Watson) won it my first year. That was when he hit that miracle shot out of the woods on No. 10. And then (Jordan) Spieth ran away with it in 2015 and Tiger (Woods) won it in '19."

Kavran has seen practice rounds, The Masters Par 3 Tournament and Thursday, Friday, Saturday rounds. But he's never seen Sunday in person. He said that changes next April. Yes, he and a buddy are now planning to attend every two years.

"Because we don't know when they're going to give that up, when we're not going to be able to do that anymore, which could be at any time," he said.

Golf pros don't always give free advice, but for those on the fence about making a Masters trip happen:

"It's something you should do. I mean, it's a bucket-list item for sure," Kavran said.