Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Getting My Masters

My friend Holly has been telling me for a couple of years that Clint and I really need to get ourselves to Augusta for their annual Masters party. I've never been around her that I didn't have a good time (and since I met her in 1996, that's quite a streak she's got going).  And while I'm not a huge golf fan--despite my domination on the putt-putt course--I do love a party, so when she invited us this year, we happily accepted.

My golfer husband (who loves a good 18 holes even more than a good party), was already looking forward to the trip. And then Holly told him she had tournament badges for us to use on Saturday. I believe I will use the word ecstatic, although giddy, euphoric, elated, jubilant, thrilled, and overjoyed are also quite accurate descriptions for his reaction. Apparently, these things are harder to get your hands on than a pet unicorn, so we were both looking forward to the trip.

Practice makes perfect, and years of throwing Masters week parties has led this bash to flawlessness. Tipsy Arnold Palmer cocktails, a backyard decorated with more Southern charm than Scarlet O'Hara has ever seen, great food, good music, and even a late night fire pit. Way after midnight, this belle was still laughing. I didn't even take the time to notice that my feet hurt--yes, it was that kind of night. Here we are, having way more fun than most people should even be allowed to have:

A good time was had by all. Especially me. 

Saturday morning, after sleeping in, enjoying a breakfast fit for a king and a Bloody Mary to wash it down, we headed for Augusta National. Fact: we were having such a good time at our host's house that we actually procrastinated heading for the tournament. I would say they really made us feel at home, except we don't get treated nearly that well at home. We finally tore ourselves away and headed for the main event.

About ten seconds after we entered the gate, we realized we were walking right beside longtime professional golfer Paul Azinger (his nickname is Zinger--based on that alone, I have to like him). The atmosphere at Augusta is so classy that he stopped to help an elderly lady who clearly had no idea who he was with some directions, then put his arm around her and guided her towards where she was trying to go. Cameras and cell phones aren't allowed, but feel-good moments certainly are.

Some of the really unique things about the Masters experience isn't so much what you see as what you don't see. No ads, no electronic scoreboards, or port-a-potties, or jean shorts (and if you have been to a college football game involving the South Carolina Gamecocks, you can really appreciate the absence of jorts). You also won't spot one bit of trash, anywhere. No gum wrappers, cigarette butts, aluminum can tabs...the place is pristine. Everything is in bloom, the grass is so manicured and perfect it would make you swear it's not real, and the dress code is yuppie weekend casual. So far, this is right up my sundress-clad alley.

Back to that part about cell phones. Not allowed--or you will be removed from the property and possibly banned for life (I'm thinking of instituting that policy during dinner parties). That makes my technology hating heart so happy. The masses are all actually walking around with their eyes up, face-to-face with other patrons instead of doing the staggering screen stare that is so commonplace in our culture right now. And yet people still manage to not only survive, but enjoy themselves, without the possibility of texting, tweeting, or a single selfie. Everyone is polite and everything is clean. Even my OCD is happy and relaxed today.

Another element of the Masters tournament that remains unchanged by time is the concession stand prices. For someone who is used to dropping $57 at the movie concession stand for a Diet Coke and a small popcorn, imagine the joy my inner fat kid felt to discover that sandwiches cost (drum roll, please): $1.50. For the same price, you can choose from a "cola," "lemon lime," or "sports drink," and I think we all know those are Cokes, Sprites, and Gatorades, but they are cheap Cokes, Sprites and Gatorades. Basically, if you have a $10 bill, this has become an all-you-can-eat buffet. And I do not back down from an all-you-can-eat challenge.

I have heard for years how great the pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches are at Augusta (sorry Pinterest, those are secret recipes) , so I felt it my journalistic duty to taste them and report back. They. Are. Mind-blowing. No, really. However good you are thinking right now, triple it. My hands down favorite was the egg salad, but if you don't like that, the pimento cheese will treat you right, too. And if you don't like egg salad or pimento cheese, I am starting to question your taste. You should probably just stay home and make yourself a fresh batch of kale chips.

You've heard that wise saying, "happy wife, happy life." I also subscribe to the theory that you should let a man be happy when you can. And so, I allowed him to shush me once for talking too loudly (this typically results in corporal punishment with me) and I was, as Clint put it, "a real trooper." We were there for a little over five hours and three egg salad sandwiches, and not a whisper of a complaint from me. That may or may not be as rare as the badges.

At this point we had pretty much walked our legs off, and we wandered over to the clubhouse, to ogle see what we could see, and took in the scores of well-dressed, not-in-the-slightest-bit-poor folk enjoying life behind the ropes. We eagerly watched green jacket wearers exit the building, always ready for a celeb sighting, when Clint recognized Lynn Swann. Mmm hmm, the one that played for the Steelers. I waved, but I'm pretty sure the sun was in his eyes and he didn't see me, because he did not wave back. After a few more minutes of gawking, we decided to go find ourselves another sandwich or two and some souvenirs from our afternoon.

We walked to the massive and yet somehow still classy souvenir shop where my spend-happy husband gets another giddy moment, courtesy of his usually frugal wife. I told him to buy anything he wanted. Hey, you only live once, right? What can I say--I was drunk with buying power after that whole concession stand experience. Clint bought himself some apparel, we got a hat for a friend of mine, and I took away numerous compliments from visitors from all over on my Southern accent. Looking back, the most difficult part of the weekend were taxing decisions like: mimosa, or Bloody Mary? Grits, or biscuits? Do we have to leave now, or can we stay a little (or a lot) longer? All in all, I can see what all the fuss is about. And I think we all know that making a fuss is par for my course.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you came and enjoyed yourself! Looking forward to doing it all again next year! xoxo


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