The Masters is coming! The Masters is coming!
OH. NO. THE MASTERS IS COMING.
As a two-year Augusta, Ga., resident, I’m staying in town while the Masters is being played. A year ago, my family and I were advised to leave, so we hightailed to Myrtle Beach. We had no idea of what life was like in our adopted southern town during this week unlike any other.
Time to find out.
The Masters is the greatest American golf tournament, by far, and arguably the greatest in the world, and for good reason. While there’s no “Masters Experience,” “Masters Village,” or “Masters Goofy Golf Showdown” outside the fence, this is without question the Super Stanley World Bowl Cup Championship of the links.
There will be hundreds of blogs talking about the course, the event, the golfers and the sorts of fescue lining the first and second cuts. Others will get caught up in the majesty and grandeur of the … well, you know. All of that.
This is not that blog.
In this blog, we enter the human-and-commerce cocoon surrounding this place for the next seven days. You won’t need a caddy or a cart, or that plastic rake lying in the sand trap. Only eyeballs, so affix them here as we swing away off the first tee box:
— Right now, a cheap hotel room is $480 per night. Good ones rocket past $2,000 per night. Also, people rent out their homes for the week (my family tried this in 2017, but had no takers). Some go for $5,000 per day with a deposit of $20,000 due. Some lower, some higher. One friend tells me her mortgage got paid for two years with one Masters week.
Related: In February, we had to return a piece of furniture to a local, Augusta furniture vendor. THE PLACE WAS PACKED. We asked why. “Everyone is redecorating their homes for the Masters.” Apparently that’s an annual tradition unlike any other as well.
— Secondary-market tickets are $1,000 and higher without breaking a sweat. Those are for PRACTICE DAY (Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday).
A Thursday first-round ticket is now $3,700, a 72-percent increase over last year (says the local paper). By the end of the week, a $6,000 per ticket probably isn’t out of the question.
And if Tiger’s in contention?
BTW, there’s a gold motorhome a mile northwest of the country club in a gas station parking lot, just off the highway. From his makeshift KOA, he sells tickets. Also, don’t miss the visor-wearing entrepreneurs hovering on the roadside hawking tickets, too.
And they are going to clean up. Why? Well …
— TIGER. Tiger Freaking Woods is back at the Masters! He’s (many) oddsmakers favorite to WIN IT.
I could not be more excited to possibly see Tiger scorching the leaderboard as a 6 to 1 favorite and returning to glory at the same time I’m washing socks and editing short stories in my home 11 miles away.
— All of the volunteers selected to feed the Land Rover-sized basilisk that lives in Rae’s Creek near Hole 13 have been chosen. These eager elementary and middle school kids on spring break are ready to take their shot lobbing hunks of Buffalo meat into the beast’s chomping maw. The good news is that the kid attrition rate should be lower than 90 percent this year. They’ve been feeding the basilisk (nicknamed “Gordo”) wayward I-20 commuters so it won’t be as hungry as it usually is, and should sleep for the entire event.
You didn’t know about the basilisk?
— I drive by Augusta National three days a week. It lies along one of two main arteries to get downtown, where I work. Somehow, Georgia has arranged for my home state of California to fly in same-sized sections of the 10 and the 405 to replace these familiar roads, congesting them like a big city-sports fan’s arteries. It’ll also stop up the connecting off ramps from the 20.
To quote Gandalf, “YOOOOOOOOOO … SHALL NOT … PASS!” At least from 7-10am and 4-7 pm. Yay!
— The country club is surrounded by an Olive Garden, two Mexican restaurants, a pretty big residential area and a place called Mema Had One (Google it!). I’m told Augusta National owns almost all the adjacent land (including the soil under the Olive Garden and a recently shuttered TGI Fridays).
When I moved here, I expected Augusta National to be flanked by private clubs (there are a couple), members-only cigar bars, and exclusive shops.
Well, Electrolux is here. So is Honey on the Rock! The Hooters is a long drive off the tee and 5 iron away. (PS, Nightlife is downtown and North of the area. If you want to catch up with a golfer or celeb, LOOK THERE).
— For many locals, the operative word for Masters week is FLEE. “Get out of town,” as Dan Hartman once sang in “Fletch.”
Kids are out of school for Spring Break. If they’re out, that’s means their parents hightail it out of town. That means, in general, there will be fewer workers at businesses that will have more people frequenting them. In a meeting today, I noted 6 of the 10 people in here will not be here next week.
— You can get a pimento cheese sandwich for a buck fifty on course. I have no idea why you’d eat pimento cheese. It tastes very close to prom night rejection and despair.
— Gas prices have shot up 30 cents. Everywhere.
— Finally, as we draw closer to tee time, I picture — as soon as the Final Four is ended — Jim Nantz retreating to his vocal dojo in Manhattan and working on his “Hello, Friends” and “Let’s throw it to Butler Cabin and Bill Macatee …” I want this to be true. Go, Jim, go.
In any case, if it’s your bag, enjoy the Masters, and cheer for the basilisk!