My Augusta Azaleas

Like all professional golfers, we all dream of playing at Augusta National in the Masters Tournament. Why do we love the Masters? As one of my friends put it, “With the blooming Azaleas, amazing golf and incredibly beautiful grounds, Augusta and the Masters is golf’s heaven on earth.”

When I asked Moe if he wanted to play at Augusta he asked in response “Who wouldn’t?”

Even though I had my great moments, my golf game never quite blossomed like the Azaleas. I played Augusta with Moe in 1997 but I never played in the Masters Tournament. However, when I decided to move away from competitive golf in 2001 – my teaching career began and I had no regrets. I found a new love and passion for teaching and helping others love the game that I loved so much.

My brother Tim and I opened our first academy – The Graves Golf Academy – in Edmond Oklahoma. Since then we have had the pleasure of teaching thousands of golfers to love the game.

When my wife Tracy and I moved to Edmond to be closer to the academy – we purchased our house in 2007. It was in foreclosure. Uninhabited for over two years, the entire property was dilapidated. The back door that exits the kitchen opened to a 3-foot drop where the previous deck had rotted away and fallen into a creek. Every inch needed repair.

When we first toured the ramshackle property we didn’t know if we wanted to take on such a huge project. Upon discovering that because of the high ceilings and expansive rooms (most importantly – I could make a full swing in the living room) – we made an offer and purchased the house.

Tracy and I spent almost a year updating, rebuilding and cleaning. Over the past few years, we have repainted, replanted and reworked the house. Still a work in progress but over the years, the house has come to life. Our efforts have created our personal sanctuary.

Tracy spent an enormous amount of time working on the yard. While I mostly spend my time with my thumbs on a golf club, her green thumbs are creating landscapes, cleaning out flower beds, planting and making our sanctuary beautiful.

Trapped within the borders of our circle driveway was a grouping of large oak trees overgrown with weeds and various wild vegetation. Tracy cleaned and landscaped around the trees salvaging the existing plant life and layered in a few rocks to break up space.

When spring arrived the house thanked us with a great surprise – bright red Azaleas blossomed between the oak trees and they blossom the week of the Masters.

I never played in the Masters. At one time in my professional golf life, I would have found that disappointing. But today the Azaleas blooming between the Oaks remind me that even though we don’t always get what we think we want, what we love is always around us.

Today, when I back down my driveway, I see the Azaleas between the Oaks. I smile as they remind me that hard work and passion always pays dividends and a piece heaven is with me every day.




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