Sorry I am a little late this week. I had to go to temple. No, I am not converting to Judaism. Mormon doesn’t quite fit the bill either although this house of prayer could be Latter Day or Present Day Saints. You know by now my antipathy towards pomp and circumstance when it comes to worship. This cathedral is actually quite simplistic and relies on natural beauty rather than steel, granite and gold. It is the Augusta National Golf Course.
For you who do not follow golf it is the site of the annual meeting of the clan and it is called the Masters. One of the original founders,Bobby Jones, actually did not want to call it that. He considered it too haughty. Therein creates the duality of a place that is on one end of the sector patrician and on the other where people of all shapes sizes and color can spend a day in the pines and azaleas of rural Georgia.
Incredibly you are struck by the charm and warmth of the place before you leave your car. There are parking lots that are paved in grass and are on gentle hills. You walk towards the gates and you begin to notice there is nothing out of place. As in everything the lines of people merge courteously through stiles that are civil and welcoming. Everywhere, staff from security to ticket takers to guides are greeting you with an ever present smile and enthusiasm towards their place of work. “Good Morning”. “Welcome to the Masters.” “Have a wonderful day at the Masters.” “Thank you for coming.” A large portion are African American and they are the most sincere. They really love this place and what they do. Wow!
They have thought of every nuance and piece of a very complex operation. The number of staff is ginormous. They are everywhere making sure there is a not a wayward wrapper, blade of grass or unruly patron out of place. But they do it without any fanfare or ado. You pay $1.50 for an egg salad sandwich and $1 for a soda. Nothing on the menu is over $3.50. Not so in the gift shop where people are wanting anything that bears the familiar logo but who’s counting?
You are struck by the gentility of everyone as no one speaks above a conversational tone. Crass and demanding go someplace else. The main clubhouse is actually quite demure. You can’t see the innards but you know it is in keeping with the rest of the place. The only mark of royalty is the coveted green blazer but they don’t flaunt their 1 or 2% or whatever. They just want to put on the best show imaginable and they succeed.
We are there for a practice round and there are people everywhere. You get the feeling they are not here for the celebrities but just to walk the holes and suck in the atmosphere which is exactly what we did. You see a myriad of sight lines and around each bend was the picture that you had to take just to replicate what you had seen on TV so many times. Only for once it was so much better.
I won’t bore you with hole by hole replays. Kathy and I left not whooping it up but with a sense we had spent four or five hours in a very special place in so many different ways. Time to just savor.
On the ride back to Jacksonville we passed farms and rural Georgia at its best and worst. We had spent the previous night in Statesboro to ensure an early entrance and went to a local sports bar called Loco’s. Appropriate eh? The young bartender was named Dennis and had lived there all his life. He came over to greet us and told of his town and his pride in this place he called home. He said please come back and stay a while and he meant it.
As the miles passed and we came down to the lowlands of the coast I couldn’t help but dwell on how diverse this country is. We have been so many places over the last couple of years it is truly hard to make sense of it and at the same time that is our strength. I am going to write more on this some time soon but right now I am going to keep this short and sweet…neat but not gaudy.
Ted The Great.
There are around 300 members of Augusta. You don’t apply but are invited. It is not all that expensive but you can lose your green blazer in a heartbeat. The annual bill comes in April. If you don’t get it then you are adios.
You cannot use your membership in Augusta for demanding any special treatment. There was a fellow who went to St Andrews and tried to play on a day in which there were no available tee times. He stated he was a member of Augusta. Still no luck. Word got back and he quickly became a former member of the most exclusive club in America.
I think we ought to have the people running this tournament take over major portions of our government. Let’s see…efficient, courteous, profitable. It just might work.