By JEFF RITTER, Golf.com Senior Editor, Digital Development – Golf at Sports Illustrated
AUGUSTA, Ga. — The Masters means many things to many people, but there isn’t another soul at Augusta National this week who loves the place more than Ed Layne.
Ed is 71 years old and has as sweet a gig as you’ll find anywhere at Augusta. On the first Sunday in April for 18 consecutive years Ed has driven from his home in Trinity, N.C., to Augusta for the week, where he crashes with friends in a rental house and works as a volunteer marshal on the 1st hole. Judy, his wife of 48 years, jokingly refers to the Masters as “Ed’s mistress.”
But shortly after last year’s edition, Ed’s energy began to wane. He skipped household chores. He stopped fiddling in his backyard. His stomach ached. He didn’t want to see a doctor — he’d only been to a hospital twice: once to have his tonsils removed as a kid, and another time about a decade ago when he had a spider bite. (Ed caught the Black Widow, entombed it in glass and tucked it into a drawer in his nightstand.) Finally in November, Judy hauled him to the doctor. The news was crushing.
“I tell people I live for four things,” Ed said earlier this week from a camping chair behind the 1st green. “My wife, Judy; my son, Robert; the first week of April; and the third Wednesday in May.”