Sunday, April 10, 2011

Growing up Augusta.

I have many, many memories of this week. All happy.

Once, my second Masters after moving back home post college, I parked my car in the parking lot of Surrey Center with 3 coolers full of beer. Every night, we'd tip the doorman in the back $20 and would spend the rest of the night drinking for free instead of the $10/beer they were selling. At the end of the night, we would call a Helen's mother to come pick us up and deliver all 8 of us to my condo for french fries, grilled cheese, and late night dancing. Hours later, we would all be dressed, showered, and respectable looking with nary a sign of the previous evening's debauchery thanks to a heavy dose of Tylenol and sweating it out on the course. Not saying that you would want to stand by us, but, we were the very definition of Monet.

Once, when I was about 6, my grandfather insisted that it was time for me to go out. He had the patrons parking pass and the patience of taking a girl who knew minimal about golf. We sat on a little hill by the green of five. He bought me my first chicken sandwich and co'cola while he had a club and beer. Of course he had a beer. He even had it in a souvenir cup. I whispered all kinds of questions and clapped at the right time. He walked me out and my mom picked me up. We walk by the little hill every year and every year I think about sitting in those old green chairs.

As I grew older, I found it much more fun to go with my aunt, Elf, than with my friends. As her son, Dean, grew older, I found it fun to have him to pal around with. He taught me more about the course, 10 years my junior, than anyone else. Elf, Dean, and I spent a whole day on the 18th tee under the camera stand when I was 22. We had on jackets and were in the shade, which was good, because we were lit up like the fourth of July. That's when I learned that it is not ideal to drink beer for beer with Elf. Not ideal at all.

We always had a reprieve of attending Mass on Masters Sunday. Dad said that the National was the biggest church in the world. We have spent many Easters on number eight with a feast of egg salad sandwiches and pink lemonade. Baptism of rain and pollen are a regular occurrence.

Will & I were married on March 31st, 2007- the Saturday before Masters week. I was so excited to be married, go on a honeymoon, but was ready- READY- to get home. Will insisted that we stay until Thursday. BUT! BUT! BUT! What about Par 3? What about opening day of The Tournament? What about...? NO BUTS! Thursday evening found us at home with our friends for a Friday date at the National. It was that year that we saw another couple on the course with "JUST MARRIED" shirts. I guess if she was agreeing to spend her honeymoon in Augusta, he was agreeing to wear the stupid shirt. A high five was exchanged between the other two who were also just married, but had not a sign except very shiny diamonds on my left hand and a gold band on his.

Last year was Eileen's first Masters, she wore a pink and white seersucker romper, bucket hat and lots of sunscreen. We went out and met up with Woody. The Cagle family and Woooooo sat on number four in the shade of newly placed ancient pine trees. Eileen played with leaves and clapped as we clapped. She grew so excited sitting on the hill, that she clapped and lost her balance sitting. She tumbled, tumbled, tumbled down the hill, shook her head, laughed gleefully and pulled herself up to a sitting position. She tossed a look over her shoulder at us and went back to watching golf.

I took my first boyfriend to the tournament for his first adventure to the National. I bet he still remembers that, even if he has forgotten my name. I'm okay with that.

I have never driven or ridden down Magnolia lane, but have been through more "secret" entrances than most. I've seen the nursery behind Amen Corner and walked the course three times in one day. I've been to the players parking lot and sat with the drivers, my friends, and had conversations with the golfers like they were old friends.

They are, though. They are old friends. We welcome them into our homes and into our lives one week out of the year and they graciously accept our hospitality with that of a guest and not that of someone who has a right to be there. Because they are our guests.

We are unique, growing up here. For the most part, it is a normal city to call home, but once a year-- the cobwebs get knocked off, the grass gets mowed twice in one week, and hometown starts to shine. It's a good feeling to look on the television anywhere in the world- like on your honeymoon in Colorado and see Amen Corner, knowing that where your youth was spent and your bones were made there.

It's funny.

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