AUGUSTA, GA - Even though he wasn't anywhere near a racetrack, Undailla's David Ragan got to see plenty of driving this week. The pilot of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spent Monday at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in his home state of Georgia.
"Being from Georgia, we kind of take for granted that the Masters happens right in our backyard," Ragan said. "Some friends of ours always get tickets every year, but typically we're always racing, coming off a race weekend and getting ready for another race the following weekend. But we have the off-weekend this year, so this was the first time I had some downtime to be able to do some of the things that normal people get to do."
The 76-year-old tournament is golf's only championship event played at the same course every year - a tradition that Ragan appreciates and likens to NASCAR.
"Golf is one of the sports, like NASCAR, that really hasn't changed in how it's played since its inception," Ragan said. "You look at NASCAR, running the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500 and those types of traditional races. They stick with a lot of the same procedures that have been in place since Day One. Technology might help drive the ball farther on the golf course, just like technology helps give us more horsepower to go faster, but the core basics of the sport are still very much the same as they were when they first started."
Ragan hits the greens himself a few times a year, playing in charity events or with fiancée Jacquelyn Butler, but doesn't consider himself a die-hard golfer. As an "outdoors guy," he simply enjoys being out on the course in the sun having fun. And while golf clearly moves at a much slower pace than stock-car racing, Ragan appreciates the parallels between golf and NASCAR.
"With golf, you're outside, you've got trees and pretty grass and everyone talking quietly," he said. "Whereas at a race, you're on asphalt with concrete walls around you and you're hearing the screaming engines of 43 racecars, so it is a vastly different scene.
"But there are similarities. When you see a guy hit a great shot or birdie a hole, you get a chill bump just like when you see your favorite driver set on the pole or beat his competitor off pit road. So, you still have those high-intensity moments."
Like a spectator at a racetrack, Ragan enjoyed Monday's outing as a chance to just be a fan. He didn't have any special passes or VIP access - just walked around and enjoyed the day like everyone else. And, like everyone else, he zeroed in on one particular Masters competitor.
"Everyone wants to see Tiger Woods. So, that was our first task on the day - go find Tiger."