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Florida couple has created a Masters shrine (and party spot) in their backyard

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ORMOND BEACH, Florida — As the year’s first major golf championship has arrived, Tommy Craig has stepped up his game.

For several years, Craig and his wife, Stacy, have treated the four men’s majors as special occasions inside their Florida home — complete with decorations and special food menus, generally themed around the tournament’s location.

“It turns into a four-day party,” Tommy says.

The Masters, the lone major played at the same venue every year, offered the perfect opportunity for the Craigs to do something a bit more permanent.

The tournament’s rich history and traditions played into some new additions — specifically an artificial turf replica of Augusta National’s famed 12th green, the picturesque middle ground of the course’s Amen Corner.

A miniature replica of the flowered covered map of the United States at the Craig’s Ormond Beach home, Monday April 5, 2021 like the one at Augusta National. (David Tucker/Daytona Beach News-Journal)

The Masters at home: The birth of an idea

“Over the past year, with the COVID stuff, I was bored,” says Tommy, a 49-year-old former area club pro who now works in RV sales. “I was still working, but after work there was nowhere to go, so I stayed home a lot. I’d always mow the grass back here and say, ‘That’d be a good place for a green.’ Then I decided, why not No. 12 at Augusta?”

Like the actual 12th at Augusta, Craig’s tribute green includes two bunkers behind, one in front, with a replica Rae’s Creek passing in front, and his own version of the Hogan Bridge. It all sits in the shadows of large pines (like the original) and nearby is a scaled-down, perfect copy of one of Augusta National’s large, hand-operated scoreboards.

“If you can’t actually attend The Masters, the next best thing is attending Tommy and Stacy’s Masters party,” says Hal Brooks. “They’ve both worked extremely hard to provide a memorable setting where friends can gather and enjoy the tournament. Their attention to detail is impressive.”

But Brooks is hardly an unbiased observer, since he was recently named “chairman” of the whole affair, a position that came with his own green coat — another Masters tradition. Tommy Craig refers to Brooks as “Clifford,” in honor of Augusta National’s original chairman, Clifford Roberts.

“From the pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches down to the par-3 12th replica hole in the backyard, watching the Masters at the Craig house has become ‘A Tradition Unlike Any Other,’ ” Brooks says, “and one I look forward to each and every year.”

Homeowner Stacy Craig walks over the little bridge in the backyard replica of parts of the Augusta National Golf Course, Monday April 5, 2021 in Ormond Beach.

Here’s what you’ll find at the Craigs

The backyard setup includes several small picnic tables with green umbrellas, reminiscent of the outdoor dining area behind Augusta National’s historic clubhouse.

There are also two other artificial greens, with two teeing areas roughly 50 yards away from each, which allows visitors to work on their wedge games, using soft practice balls. Tommy Craig bought the materials and installed all of the greens and tees.

Stacy Craig, an area chiropractor, takes charge of the indoor activities during tournament week. Along with wall-to-wall mementos and decorations, she focuses on the food and drink menus.

For Masters week, she offers everything available at Augusta’s famously affordable concession stands, where sandwiches are the main fare.

A little extra for Sunday’s final round

For Sunday’s final round, she prepares everything from the pre-tournament Champions Dinner menu, the annual Tuesday night gathering that this year featured everything from filet mignon to pigs in a blanket.

“For the other majors, it all depends on where they’re played that year,” Stacy says. “When the British Open was played in Ireland (2019), we had a big Irish breakfast — blood sausage, regular sausage, fried tomatoes, beans … it was massive.

“When we find out where they’re played, we do some research and figure out a menu, but it usually starts with the local cocktail.”

When he was a club pro at the former Tomoka Oaks golf course in Ormond Beach, Tommy Craig was able to use his PGA of America status to attend the Masters.

He says he went nine or 10 times over the years. Since he no longer goes, he’s done the next best thing and brought a piece of it to his backyard.

And he might not be through.

“I see enough room to add a couple more holes out here,” he says. “Maybe even a par-4 if the neighbors are OK with it.”

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original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/09/masters-florida-couple-backyard-shrine-augusta-national/

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