April / Augusta, Georgia

Masters Tournament

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It is peaceful being away from the crowds of golf fans at Augusta. I am sitting here on the veranda under the umbrellas waiting for the fog delay to end. There’s wet grass under my shoes.

The air is clean, clear. The white metal chairs are separated by a lone white rope and Sports Illustrated press credentials. I have distinctive access exclusively set aside for segregated patrons of the game.

Old and new. The Masters Tournament and the veranda are symbols of tradition and an elite class system. Bart, the waiter serves my breakfast. Until recently there were only blacks in these yellow ochre short coats. Now there are white waiters. And women.

And women can now go up into the clubhouse and overlook this umbrella-ed international scene from the porch.

This is totally a guy’s event; guys only. There are not many women. Only ‘trophy wives’, too blonde, too rich, too thin.

‘Business guy’ types rule; guys in corporate logo visors, ‘if you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time.’ Would be wannabe golphers all wearing the same clothes which consists of a short sleeve golf shirt, 2-tone bucks, and or black and white leather cleats. Crisp white button down shirts, rep ties, Bermuda shorts cardigan sweaters and patterned vests surround me. The only woman.

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The British guys sit near me smiling.  They are so unlike the pony-tailed brash Americans who lean in and squawk, ‘Geez, you’ re really sweet honey.’ Leering even though they have wedding rings, talking loudly, closing 2-color, 4-color printing deals under the tree. No, the British are free and easy. They are happy to be here and more at ease with the tradition. They expect it: ceremony,grace,tradition, and class rules.

Wealth and separation by a class system is expected. They seem used to it. Their voices speak reverence in the way they speak about their sport, ‘their golfers’. Theirs is the language of kings and class.

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As Americans we are too young a country to grasp tradition, we just don’t get it.

My men friends ask me excitedly just before I leave, ‘The Masters Tournament?! Really? You need anyone to carry your bags?’

All these people stamping around in the rain paying $40 dollars for an umbrella. Gene Sarazen signing an old copy of his golf book. Old and new, old and new. History already made, history being made.

Then the tournament begins. The first pairing tees off. They have their photos taken with the official from the Masters in his own green jacket. Everything is recorded. The first pair stands arm in arm for the clubhouse photographer. They smile, then tee off into the mist.

When you see them swing and hit the ball you realize just how good they are. I can’t imagine the pressure of standing dead quiet over the ball in front of a crowd of people and then just whacking away accurately, once, to get it up and onto the fairway.

Must be maddening.

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