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Taylorsville Journal

City Councilman Cochran and wife tour Atlanta & attend day one of the Masters Tournament in Augusta

May 02, 2022 09:00PM ● By Carl Fauver

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Next time you need to kill a few hours – and get a little exercise – wander down to the goal line on the Taylorsville High School football field. Walk those one hundred yards from one goal line to the other…then back again… and again… and again… Walk those 100 yards 74 times – but on your 75th lap, you can stop at the 25-yard line – the far one.

When you’re done – as you tend to any blisters – realize you’ve just walked the same distance (7,475 yards, or 4.25 miles) as those who golf 18 holes at Augusta National Golf Course. Or you could just be an ambitious spectator there – like Taylorsville City Councilman Curt Cochran and his wife Wendy were last month, on day one of the 86th edition of the Masters Golf Tournament.

“The course is absolutely beautiful,” Cochran said. “We arrived there very early on the first day of the Masters (April 7), walked the first three holes, waited in line to have our picture taken (spectators were not allowed to carry cameras or cell phones) and then walked holes 4 through 18. After walking that whole thing, we decided to pick one spot to remain for the rest of the day.”

No word on whether blisters needed tending.

The Cochran’s week in Georgia ended at Augusta National. It actually began several days earlier, 143 miles west of Augusta, in the huge, if not always “thriving,” metropolis of Atlanta. Although the councilman admits this sojourn was mostly vacation, he was also on a bit of a fact-finding mission.

“Atlanta is the headquarters of many large corporations, including Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Kroger, Marriott and Turner Broadcasting,” Cochran said. “But a lot of the business owners and employees I spoke with are not happy. Their consensus was the city is not spending enough money to keep their downtown area vibrant. People told me businesses are pulling out and undesirable elements are taking over.”

In particular, Cochran cited a once bustling shopping and entertainment district in the downtown area called “Underground Atlanta.”

“That area is now completely closed; and, again, the locals say an undesirable element is moving in,” he added. “I also observed sidewalks, streets and curbs filled with litter. I asked one (apparently homeless) man why he sleeps during the day, and he told me ‘because it’s too dangerous to sleep at night.’ My takeaway was, city governments have to be willing to invest in keeping their communities clean in order to protect their business areas.”

Cochran understands there’s a huge difference between Atlanta, with its nearly half-million residents, when compared to Taylorsville’s 60,000. But he believes some principles do cross over.

“For example, I have noticed we don’t have trash cans at all of our Taylorsville UTA bus stops,” he added. “I’d like to work with UTA and UDOT to get more trash cans. I also think more of our bus stops should be covered and have benches. Like everything else though, it’s a matter of determining top priorities for spending (tax) money. But I’ve always believed keeping our city clean should be one of our top high priorities – and Atlanta reinforced that.”

Cochran and his wife visited the Coca-Cola headquarters while in the Georgia capital. They also saw the home where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 as well as Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King was co-pastor from 1960 until his assassination in 1968.

The Utah couple also had a brief brush with Hollywood when they stumbled upon actor Zachary Levi filming a new children’s movie in Atlanta, “Harold and the Purple Crayon.”

As their day to attend the Masters drew closer, the Cochrans shifted from their Atlanta hotel to one in Augusta for their final two nights. Besides watching Tiger Woods and the other golfers, Cochran wanted to use his visit to the esteemed course to observe how cities handle large events.

“They say daily attendance at the Masters is about 40-50 thousand spectators; but it did not feel that crowded most of the time,” Cochran said. “The city of Augusta was very proactive about closing streets to keep traffic moving. When we arrived at the course that morning, traffic was flowing well and we were able to park close. It seemed very well organized.”

Cochran learned a few things he would be happy to share with the annual Taylorsville Dayzz Committee.

“Our committee does a great job and last year they drew a record crowd (to Taylorsville Dayzz), maybe 10-15 thousand,” he added. “I just observed some things at the Masters that (if we tried something similar here) might loosen up the crowded walking and eating areas near the Taylorsville Dayzz food booths.”

Cochran was also impressed with the police presence around Augusta National during his day at the tournament.

“We definitely felt secure while we were there,” he added. “And they also had plenty of staff, maybe some of them volunteers, to answer questions and help show us where to go.”

As for the golf itself, after their 4+ mile course walk the Cochrans settled into bleachers overlooking the 17th green, which also offered good views of the hole 15 fairway and hole 18 tee box.

“We got there in time to watch groups 7 through 31 putt,” Cochran added.

And did that include Woods’ group?

“As Tiger approached the 17th green, it was like the President was coming to town,” Cochran added. “He had such a huge group of fans walking with him, you could hear his crowd when they were four holes away. But I noticed when he is competing, he is the most focused man I have ever seen. You could also tell, because of his (leg) injuries (from a February 23, 2021 car crash) he was also very focused on his walking.”

Woods’ best day of the four was that Thursday when the Cochrans were watching him up close and personal. Tiger shot a 1-under-par 71, followed by a 74 on Friday and a pair of 78 scores over the weekend, to finish well out of contention.

As for this year’s Masters winner, Scottie Scheffler, 25, Cochran admits “I don’t even remember watching him putt; but I know he played through our hole while we were there. His name just wasn’t one I was paying close attention to.”

As an aside, Cochran mentioned he and his son Nick had actually been much closer to Tiger Woods at the only other golf major he’s ever attended – the 2010 U.S. Open.

“That trip was my high school graduation gift to Nick and we were at Pebble Beach (Golf Links, in California),” Cochran said. “Nick ended up helping out at a cooler, handing water bottles to the golfers. He handed one to Tiger.”

Nick played three years on the Taylorsville High School golf team. And Cochran says his son shot him an ‘are-you-kidding-me?’ look when he told him Mom was using the second tournament pass at Augusta and not him.

The day after their 7,475-yard walk around the Augusta National Golf Course, Curt and Wendy Cochran were back aboard a Utah-bound airplane, promising one another they will do more of their own golfing this summer. It would seem they must have comfortable shoes.

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