Saturday, April 4, 2009

Augusta and the Masters

Living here in the South we take a lot of things for granted, spring is one of those things and Augusta Georgia and the Masters Week is another.

Augusta is one of those places that rarely makes news around here, except for one week each year in April. Here in the south the Masters is another beautiful place in a land of beautiful places and one of many events held in the South during March and April.

The Masters along with the Carolina Cup, The Cooper River Bridge Run, the Heritage at Harbourtown on Hilton Head Island all make up part of our southern rite of spring.

By Masters weekend, we really our at our best, by now our spring cleaning is complete, our gardens are stunning ,we have been mowing our lawns for some time now flowering trees abound and life once again begins to settle down to a pace we call the South.

Somewhere around the first of March, and well into the nonstop coverage of March Madness as the NCAA basketball season winds down CBS Sports will start running their Masters Promo spots.

The familiar theme music will start as the television screen fills with sweeping views of Amen Corner, Magnolia Drive, Azaleas and Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Photo By The Author

The CBS commercials, though folks up north consider them public service announcements, welcome notice that winter's bleakness is almost over, signal the start of one of the south's best traditions, the Masters.

Living on Long Island, the Masters means it's only another month or so and your local course will be playable.

If you live further north when our hollowed Augusta ground and it's perfectly manicured emerald green fairways come to your 56 inch tv, it means it's time to get the snowmobile back on the trailer and the ice shack off the lake and figure out where in the garage you stashed your clubs back in early October.

I'm always surprised to meet people who have recently moved from "up north" who are stunned to find that Augusta is now a part of their backyard.

So maybe you too are wondering just were is this "Augusta" and how do I get to the Masters?

First August is only a short drive from just about anywhere in the Carolinas except perhaps the outer banks. Only an hour or so from Columbia, just across the Georgia State line and the Augusta River lies golf history.

Getting to Augusta is easy, getting into Augusta National for the Masters well ....that's another story. Season ticket holders are often referred to as "my grand daddy" or my late uncle who died back in 1988. The only way to get Masters tickets is that someone has to die, I'm not kidding as the waiting list has been closed since the late 1980's and even the death of a season ticket holder won't get you any closer to having a shot at buying tickets directly from the Augusta National Golf Club.

But buying tickets to the final round on Sunday are easy or impossible, depending on who you know and how much you are willing to pay.

My brother in-law picked up two tickets for last year's final round for $500.00 at a church auction, and stood next to a couple who paid $1,600.00 each for their "one day package".

Getting practice round tickets is a little easier, just sign up for the annual Augusta National Practice Round ticket lottery and wait till September to see if you are selected and then pay only $28 dollars each, or click on a few of the on line scalpers, the difference in price is around $300.00 per ticket.

A word of caution to northern transplants who make that first pilgrimage to Augusta, it's greener than you could ever imagine, and once you walk through the gates your life will never be the same. By the way it's OK you can touch the grass, and yes it's real.

While you're there pose for a photo in front of the Club House and enjoy a pimento cheese sandwich.

Welcome to springtime in the South.

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