Monday, April 02, 2007

The Magic of Augusta

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Any other time, the drive south from Charlotte on I-77 toward Columbia would be a dull chore, made more entertaining only by the magic of satellite radio on the opening day of major league baseball season.

But swinging west at Columbia onto I-26 meant going to Augusta and that meant another Masters and the road there felt like a magic carpet ride.
It’s when you notice the leaves have popped on the trees and the magenta azaleas blooming off the road. The yellow film of pollen, spring’s dirty secret, becomes part of the decorations, not a health hazard.

It is a unique thrill to turn off the clutter along Washington Road and onto Magnolia Lane, driving beneath the 65 trees that frame the most famous entryway in golf. It is not how anyone but the players and a few select guests arrive during Masters week.

However, turning onto Washington Road with its burger joints, car-repair shops and urban ministries has its own pull on Masters week. It’s there, with the $20 parking spots and pedestrian pathways, that the tournament starts to become real.

It’s where you see the fortunate ones with a ticket heading out late in the afternoon with a splash of sun on their nose, a new cap on their heads and the pleasantly weary smile of a good day on their faces. Most of them carry a clear plastic bag stuffed with shirts and calendars and programs, the memorabilia of their visit to Augusta.

It’s a journey that, remarkably, never loses its charm, no matter how you get there.

3 comments:

Joe said...

Where does one stay on a reporter's budget down there?

Aiken? if you are lucky?

In the luxurious rental home of a player/friend?

In your car?

And how far in advance do you have to make your reservation? (car not included)

Just curious,
Joe

Anonymous said...

Ron, you may want to check your atlas next time you drive from Charlotte to Augusta; I-26 west from Columbia will take you to the Greenville/Spartnaburg area. Although it did not take away from your pleasant story, I-20 west will lead you to the promised land. Check your map.

Jon said...

"It is a unique thrill to turn off the clutter along Washington Road and onto Magnolia Lane, driving beneath the 65 trees that frame the most famous entryway in golf. It is not how anyone but the players and a few select guests arrive during Masters week."


Ron, Only because I took the quiz on Masters.org (and got it wrong) there are exactly 61 trees that line Magnolia Lane.....Of course it wouldnt suprise me if they decided to make it a nice round number and fly a few in fully grown. Maybe the buried Martha Burke under one of them!