By Sam Burnham
Georgia has a rich tradition of both golf and private clubs. As the spring progresses the courses will begin to fill up. Whether they are at Coosa in Rome, Sunset Hills in Carrollton, or Cherokee Town & Country in Atlanta, golfers and duffers alike will be out doing their best to make par...or at least better than triple bogie.
But next week in particular, the collective eyes of the golf world will turn to Georgia, Augusta to be exact, because no club beats Augusta National and no golf beats The Masters.
The Masters had a truly Southern beginning. Golf legend Bobby Jones and Augusta investment banker Clifford Roberts purchased the former Fruitland Nursery to build what would become The world's most elegant golf course. Jones designed the course along with Alister MacKenzie. MacKenzie never saw completion of Augusta National. He died a few months before construction was complete.
Bobby Jones had big plans for the course. He lobbied the USGA to hold the US Open at Augusta National but the officials whined that the hot summer in Georgia might make their foreheads sweat or whatever and declined Jones' request. So Jones set out to establish a tournament that the US Open would never rival on a course that wouldn't stoop to host the lowly open tournament.
The springtime setting for the tournament means that the landscaping stars come out. Dogwoods and azaleas make frequent appearances. There is not a single blade of grass that is present where it is not intended. There are no shortcuts. Nothing is more serious at any golf course than Masters Week is at Augusta.
Along with the landscaping goes the true Southern tradition of manners. There is no running anywhere at Augusta. The patrons (as the fans are called) are respectful of the game and the setting. No one id allowed between the ropes but competitors, caddies, and rules officials. Terminology Gran would have considered "common" such as fans, bleachers, sand traps, and the front or back nine are not used. The correct terms, respectively, are patrons, observation stands, bunkers, and first or second nine. If there is a front nine, it might be miscalled a front side. That would suggest there is a back side. Anyone talking about backsides at Augusta is going to be asked to leave. Augusta is a Kardashian-free zone.
The terminology standard is no joke. CBS commentator Jack Whitaker was banned by Clifford Roberts from the tournament from 1966-1972 for referring on air to the excited crowd at the 18th hole as "a mob".
As for the winner, who is not the champion of anything and is never referred to as such, he will receive the famous Green Jacket. He'll keep the jacket for a year until the next tournament when a new winner is dubbed and the previous winner's jacket goes into the closet with all the others, freely available to him any time he comes to the course. Masters winners also have a lifetime invitation to play in the tournament.
As for this year's Masters, I'll be cheering for fellow Jacksonville State Gamecock, Danny Willett. I'll also be pulling for Georgia Bulldog, Bubba Watson. There are a few others I'll be happy to see do well. We'll be following and posting updates via our Twitter, as we did last year.
But for now, it's time to go. If you find yourself at the match, let us see your pics. And try the pimento cheese sandwiches. We hear they are the best!
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire