The Green Velvet Majesty of Augusta National
John Updike dreamed about golf and wrote of his dreams in prose so lovely and lyrical it inevitably makes me smile... or cry. Really beautiful things do that to me.
Since I started writing this blog I've read volumes on the singular beauty of Augusta National so I probably should have anticipated an emotional response, but my golf roots aren't deep... my family doesn't play and I first picked up a club a mere five years ago... so I thought I'd be fine. --->
And I was for a while. I checked my phone and car keys, had my badge scanned and proceeded along the path to the practice area.
A couple of things stood out right away: The cheerful contentment of each and every staffer, and the total absence of logos, bright colors and garish signs. These elements reinforce the old-fashioned gentility of Augusta National. Concession stands and shops are uniformly green... scaled to size. They accommodate a surprising number of people without appearing overly crowded. Lines move quickly. It's impressive.
So are the hills. The course is very hilly, which is something I didn't realize, despite the endless hours of televised Masters coverage I'd enjoyed over the years. I passed the scoreboard and climbed the first hill. At the summit I found myself looking down on a gauzy, multi-tonal carpet of green. There were dozens of different shades but they blended perfectly across the undulating landscape. For a moment that view literally... absolutely... took my breath away. Clichéd as that might sound.
I then approached a couple of volunteers, having realized that without the cell phone I'd just checked at the door, I'd have no idea of the time. Before I could ask for the hour, they both smiled... in the indulgent, empowering way, a parent smiles at an inquisitive child as presents are opened on Christmas morning. At this point a wave of wonderment struck me. and of course, I'm smiling too. And crying at the same time.
Augusta National really does have a beauty that's unparalleled anywhere else in the world, and it wraps those who are fortunate enough to walk its fairways in a unique, verdant warmth. I count myself extremely lucky to be one of them.