Some scattershot impressions of a first-time visitor to Augusta National Country Club and the Masters:

  • I love cheese, almost all cheese. But I do not love pimento cheese. In the interest of investigative journalism, however, I did eat the famous Masters’ pimento cheese sandwich ($1.50, please) at a course concession stand.
    I rate it quite good. For pimento cheese.
  • I did not try the almost-famous egg salad sandwich (also $1.50). I have to draw the line somewhere.
  • The first thing you notice upon walking onto the main part of the Augusta National property is green. It is not just the members and the past champions who are green. Everything is green. The grass is a lush green, the kind of vibrant color that your lawn would boast if somebody who worked for one of those lawn-service companies lived on your front porch and was awake every morning at 5 a.m. grooming the grass. You expect to find Easter eggs scattered around. I wandered around the entire course and did not see a patch of grass that wasn’t pampered to perfection. No bald spots. No dying turf. 
  • The azaleas. High marks for the azaleas. Many of them were in bloom; some weren’t. At my house, every third one dies. At Augusta, that is not allowed. The ones that might succumb to heat and drought apparently are dragged away under the cover of darkness.
  • The views down the first fairway, across Rae’s Creek to the 12th green, and up the hill to the 18th green fill the heart.
  • Best bargain on the course might be the one-dollar mini Moon Pie. That is if you like Moon Pies.
  • Security personnel, greeters, and course marshals are almost universally friendly. Organizers of other major sporting events could learn much from how this part of the tournament is handled. The widespread belief that gate guards must be surly is wrong.
  • The line leading to the golf shop, where Masters shirts, caps, shot glasses and golf towels await, is formidable. The line typically winds outside, then onto the shop porch, and then winds some more before you reach the merchandise. You’ll think you’re waiting for the Peter Pan ride at Disney World, except that the line moves much faster here.
  • The next gum wrapper, paper cup, empty potato chip bag, or another piece of trash you see on the course might be the first one anybody has ever seen here. The place is remarkably well-kept and clean, in part because most of those who show up to watch people play golf here hold it in such high regard.
  • It’s apparently a rule here that every 10th guy be a cigar smoker. You can smell their enjoyment on the breezes. I don’t know what happens to their cigar butts.
  • By club decree, no one yells “In the hole!” when players tee off. This is exceedingly wonderful and is a practice every course should employ.

Mike Hembree

Mike Hembree is a veteran journalist who has covered a variety of sports for numerous publications and websites, including USA Today, Fox Sports, TV Guide and The Greenville (S.C.) News. He has written 14 books and has won numerous writing awards at the national, regional and state levels. He is a seven-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.