Saturday, April 11, 2009

A tradition -- and an event -- unlike any other

AUGUSTA, Ga. – On Friday evening, it didn’t just rain in Augusta. The sky fell, complete with thunder, lightning, wind, hail and a nearby tornado.

On Saturday, Augusta National was, as usual, flawless.

How exactly it could pour rain and leave no mud is a question for Aristotle – or the grounds crew – at Augusta National to answer.

The only way you could tell it had rained was the sand that had been sprinkled to absorb the moisture in a few damp areas.

Not beach sand.

Green sand.

Masters green.

The beauty of the Masters – beyond the golf – is the attention to detail that goes into everything the tournament and the club does.

While the process of getting there may be incredibly complicated, everything about it seems simple.

The pairings are printed on a sheet of paper, not some ad-cluttered pamphlet that’s harder to fold than a road map.

No one gets inside the ropes except the players and their caddies. The media stands outside and watches like everyone else (though there are a few small viewing stands in spots around the course).

Commercials pop up four times an hour during the telecast. Thankfully, there are no television timeouts though Sean O’Hair’s pace of play comes close.

Lunch is famously inexpensive and proves that white bread is alive and well, at least in Georgia.

This year, the tents that housed the pimento cheese sandwiches, potato chips and $2.75 beers have been replaced by permanent structures that would increase the property values in almost any neighborhood.

The open-air buildings look like something you’d see in ‘Coastal Living’ magazine with the light wood interiors, dormers and cedar shingles on the roof.

There are picnic tables, stacked stone walls and an assorted of blooming vegetation.

I’m wondering if I can rent one of the buildings for vacation.

The public restrooms have slate walls that remind you of a Tuscan villa and automatic towel dispensers that roll out the paper before you’ve washed your hands.

There are restroom attendants and, as is the rule at Augusta National, no tipping allowed.

The best thing of all is the no-cell phone policy which is strict and unforgiving. Birds twitter. People don’t.

It’s amazing. People actually talk to each other.

People smile.

There’s another world just outside the gates of Augusta National where the world lives.

There’s mud out there. The sand isn’t green and if you want to grab a bite, get in line at McDonald’s down the road.

And if you need directions, the Masters will be happy to provide them.


Anonymous said...

I'm kind of confused. Newspapers are cutting back left and right. The Observer is slashing jobs weekly. News and Sports coverage has been scaled back. Yet, there are THREE Observer writers in Augusta this week. Oh yeah, and they're not covering any local stories. It's stuff we can read on national websites or in national newspapers anywhere.

I'm wondering if someone from the Observer can explain that decision not only to the readership, but to the folks losing their jobs. Do you really need to pay for THREE writers to be on what amounts to a vacation out there. Or do the Green's just have that much pull?