One of the things I’m most proud of as a native Georgian is Augusta National Golf Club. I’ve only been there once, but I can tell you that it is an experience that will stick with you for a lifetime. I was recently listening to an interview where Jim Nantz, longtime CBS broadcaster, said that when he’s describing the place to people he never worries if he’s overselling it. If anything, words fail to describe the beauty of the place and the painstaking care that each blade of grass receives.
In this same interview, ESPN’s Marty Smith discussed with Nantz and others the fact that going to Augusta National is like taking a journey back in time. No phones are allowed on the premises, and if that makes you cringe, consider this: Everyone at the course is just as much in awe of the place as you are. No one is in a hurry. There is no pushing and shoving to get somewhere on time. There is only the awe-inspired look on each and every one of the patron’s faces there.
This time of year the Georgia spring is just coming into its own and the rolling southern hills decorated with radiant azaleas provide a radiant glow throughout the place. Pine trees shade much of the course and streams of sunlight dance across the fairways as childhood memories of running through the grass on clear summer mornings are evoked. A peaceful, settling beauty invites you for a stroll across the grounds, and history whispers to you at every turn.
Think of it, it’s just as if you’ve been transported back in time. No distractions and no added anxiety of responding to the people at your fingertips. Only the enjoyment of having the opportunity to be caught up in the moment and soak in an unfiltered experience that is truly the stuff of lore. One day you’ll tell stories about this place and words will fail you. Imagine stepping into a painting that a master painter has been working on for months, even years. That’s what it’s like stepping onto the grounds at Augusta National Golf Club. Common sense and common courtesy return to the forefront of interaction instead of technology and FOMO (“Fear Of Missing Out” for the old folks, haha) dominating every second. Here, pure and personal communication hold true and the fact that you’re all thrilled to be there gives you immediate common ground with thousands of strangers, some of whom have traveled internationally. What a unique and incredible experience! I don’t know of any other sports experience that compares.
I’ll close with a quick story from my experience there. My brother and I were there on Sunday for the 2008 Masters, and were following golfer Ian Poulter for a few holes near the beginning of the day. We had walked some distance ahead of him and heard a golf ball hit in the top of one of the pines near us. It was Poulter’s and it ended up only a few feet away from us. We saw our opportunity and ran over near the ball and were present when they arrived. Although we did not speak to him, we were right there as he and his caddie discussed the shot from the rough and what the right play would be. I was soaking this up because Poulter is a favorite of mine and how many sports events allow you to stand literally only feet away from the athletes as they play on one of the world’s biggest stages? Unbelievable, and an experience I’ll never forget.
Augusta National is a magical place, and I’m looking forward to more magic in this year’s Masters!