I am often asked to name my favorite day covering The Masters Tournament; and if I’d ever managed to play Augusta National Golf Club?
While the grounds down Magnolia lane inside the famed Augusta National Golf Club are pristine, the club’s surroundings on Washington Road are not as idyllic; unless you consider the landscaping at Hooters and Krispy Kreme equal to the idyllic azaleas, dogwoods and pines of the so-called “cathedral in the pines.”
Most of the hotels in Augusta are of the standard, chain variety – all desperately overpriced for one week each year. The only thing harder to score than a ticket to the tournament is a hotel room – even broken down, fleabag barracks cost $240 for the night.�
Luckily, I was invited to stay in a rented home near “The National” with two colorful golf professionals: Michael Kernicki, who was then with Wuskowhan Players Club; Dick Stewart, from Kalamazoo Country Club; and their friend Tom Weibel, from Grand Rapids.
Come morning we all stumbled down the stairs in search of coffee, tea – or maybe an eye-opening Bloody Mary – and switched on the television. The local Augusta cable system was running a crawl on the bottom of screen: “Masters Tournament first round play has been postponed due to wet course conditions as a result of heavy rains. First round play will begin on Friday morning. Augusta National Golf Club is closed for the day.”
At first we were disappointed. No golf action. But then we realized the rainout meant a full day on the town with the thousands of fans and people in the golf industry who now had nothing else to do! It was an all-day party at Augusta’s watering holes such as the Partridge Inn and the French Market Grille. It was like a tailgate party without a football game to get to!
That…was my favorite day at “The Masters!”
Playing the highly private Augusta National is a near impossibility, and your logistical odds go down even further since the club is closed from May through October and 80-pecent of its very few members don’t even live in Augusta. For a truly authentic Augusta feel, visit Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club and Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club near Pinehurst, NC. The two quaint resorts, with classic Augusta-era 1920’s Donald Ross-designed courses steps outside your quaint, stately lodging and adjacent to each other, are dripping with history, charm and pedigree (Pine Needles has hosted three U.S. Women’s Opens.) The familiar flora, fauna and terrain give you the sense you are living and playing in a master painter’s dream creation.
Log on to www.PineNeedles-MidPines.com or call (910) 692-7111
Read all of our great stories on by TheAPosition.com writers as we cover The Masters.