We say things like, "Happy Masters!" and celebrate it the way some celebrate Christmas.
We also have, "Masters Cleaning" instead of "Spring cleaning" and "Masters week" instead of "Spring Break." More people stay in town than go out of town and golf shoes are perfectly acceptable choice of walk-around footwear.
Grass stains are a badge of honor.
This town is a sea of seersucker, madras, and experts on all things golf.
We understand what goes into renting your home to perfect strangers for 7 days- because even if you are not renting, you have at least ten friends that are... and the stress they have in going with that.
We order golf themed cookies, golf themed wreaths, and think yellow and green are a perfectly acceptable color combination.
We are Augusta.
Not too long ago, I read the introduction to the local Junior League cookbook, Tea Time at the Masters. Towards the end of the essay, it said something like, "Some go to see while others go to be seen." We know what this means. We spend 51 weeks of the year preparing to welcome the entire world into our white picket fence backyard. We serve drinks called 'Azaleas' that will knock you down like our pollen and humidity.
We polish our silver and invite strangers into our homes and to our parties. We have parties every night.
We are the definition of hospitable.
We give directions and let out-of-towners feel like neighbors as we tell them where the best restaurants and shops are.
Local high school football teams are hired on the course to pick up trash. They wear yellow jumpsuits and know how to find the best places to nap in the woods amongst the pine straw. The cheerleaders used to drive the Caddies (the car, not the guy who holds the bag) that were assigned to all the invited golfers and dignitaries of the golf world. Cadillac no longer provides those white sedans, rather Mercedes provides an entire fleet of all kinds of cars with drivers brought in. Fuzzy (the golfer, not the son) is still in contact with my friends who used to drive him twenty years ago and they get together like old friends for a beer this time of year.
This is where I grew up- in the shadow of one of the two most famous golf courses in the world. While I cannot find my way out of a paper bag when it comes to the neighboring county, I can get anywhere on the course without a second's thought. I look at where "Georgia hill" once was wistfully and remember being young in my sundress and hat, my polite clap at the good shots and the cheers at the great ones.
We earnestly watch both the golfers and the crowds.
We come home this time of year. Friends and family we have not seen in 51 weeks return to this place, this mecca, and are welcomed like the Prodigal Son. We have our "spots" and know where to find our people on the course. For instance, Prom Queen and I hold court at Number 6 on the Par Three course every Wednesday. For eleven years, she has joined me behind the tee box and we see the same faces year after year. We engage in conversation and witty banters with strangers. Our accents get a little thicker and our critique of iron choices gets a little ridiculous.
Our children cut their teeth on driving range tees and learn directions on the course before the road.
Like Joseph's coat, we will don our technicolor madras next week and return to this place we all call home. We will speak gently and fall in love with the green grass all over again.
Welcome. Take your hat off and sit a spell. Have an Azaela and tell me where you are from. Regale me with how different our lives are and enjoy this place as your own.
2012: days gone by
2009: and maybe again, too