If you’re a golf fan, or sports fan or just want a taste of Americana, this out of the way burgh in east Georgia needs to be on your to-do list. It took me almost 62 years to finally get here. It’s rivals Wimbledon and Colorado as mecca’s of sports played on grass.
The lawn is so pristine it prompted a bloke to bend down on one knee Friday evening and propose to his now fiance. It was a not so transparent, and probably successful attempt, to make the sport and his participation in it paramount to their life together. You are not a fan or spectator here- you are something called a ‘patron’- and treated with due respect and courtesy by not only the thousands of others in that category but the officials as well. However don’t even think about running to get an edge on a fellow patron or you’ll face a sanction more severe than dunking your third shot in Rae’s Creek. The best in the world at their trade are up close and personal and walk around and through you no matter what price you paid to get in or your socio-economic status.
It’s quiet and calm but has a pulse of nervous energy running through it. At any given moment an uproar can be heard half a mile away that rumbles through the entire tract of precious real estate. A course supervisor might walk up to you and ask if you “wouldn’t mind putting your cups and purses behind your chair because we are about to go on television.”
Concession prices make you feel guilty by not spending enough- renowned pimento cheese, a southern delicacy. and egg salad sandwiches are $1.50; a chicken sandwich is a wallet busting $3.00. Water is a buck, soda $1.50, beer $3.00 and if you really want to step up big time you can have an import beer for $4.00. I bought three sandwiches and a pop for $7.50. (At Yankee Stadium it would have been $50 easy.) It almost begs for you to go back and buy some more. However they get it all back in the merchandise shops. No cameras or cell phones allowed on the grounds which didn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it would. In fact it was nice break.
The place is operated as a congenial police state. Just don’t break a rule, or more importantly a tradition, and we’ll get along splendidly.
Of course it’s Augusta National and the Masters and what a pleasant surprise it was for me. It’s 130 miles east of Atlanta, five hours from Birmingham and a schlep from just about anywhere else. I was convinced after waiting all these years it would be a one and done; been there, done that, no need to go back. As everyday passes and I move along on the back nine of life, I’ve gotten adverse to so many things: crowds, traffic, waiting in lines, fighting for a parking spot, another trip to the restroom and bibb lettuce. I figured Augusta would accent much of that.
I was wrong. I’d go back one more time to try and take in as much as I missed this time. It’s a Management 101 seminar in how to run a business efficiently and successfully. This place was not only impressive but clearly not an accident either. Of course it’s the only major championship in golf that’s played in the same venue every year which not only adds to the lore, tradition and mystic but what you may bogey one year, you can make up and birdie the next.
However, it’s a double bogey if you are a golf fan (oops patron) or sports type or event monger and don’t get a chance to visit Augusta National for the Masters.
Put it on your list and don’t worry about bringing a lot of money for lunch.~