Two good walks
Matt LaWell (3)

Two good walks

The greenery. The people. The ambition. The golf. Lee Carr’s first visit to the Masters was bliss.

April 12, 2022

Blooming azaleas. Delicious sandwiches. Busy caddies. Bags of merchandise. As someone visiting for the first time, these are all things I expected to see and enjoy at the Masters. Everyone who had been there told me the elevation changes were going to be more significant than I imagined. They were.

Connected media members. Watchful security. Courteous volunteers. Morning mist. I have never associated cigar smoke with the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club but I occasionally caught that fragrance. I love it because it takes me directly back to my great uncle’s house and the comfortable cadence of my childhood. Truth be told, I felt like a kid. I was at the Masters and, shamefully or not, nothing else really seemed to matter. I don’t think I was alone in this. There was a blanket of joy, a palpable and positive energy across the property. The forecast leading up to Wednesday had been uncertain but my colleagues and I got lucky. We were able to see so much. For me, it was all new and incredible. My cheeks actually hurt at the end of the day from continual smiling.  

Flowering Peach. Magnolia. Amen Corner. Holly. Every hole has a lovely name and there are an astounding number of plants on this land, rich in history, that used to be a nursery. So much written about and universally known but secrets remain. Many. There in the open, teeing off on Carolina Cherry, was Viktor Hovland, with a solid strike (I love that sound) before striding down the fairway and smiling, full of athleticism and potential. Hideki Matsuyama, the defending and revered champion, teed off too, as whispers of the previous night’s Champions dinner, with an exquisite menu and exclusive camaraderie, circulated. Not even 100 contenders. Who would win on Sunday?  

Babies in white jumpsuits. Giggles. Hugs and family. Courageous putts from loved ones. The Par-3 contest was my favorite part of the day. It was an awesome sight to see the hills covered with patrons for this once-a-year triumph. Members wearing their green jackets watch, beaming like everyone else. On hole No. 5, a group of youthful agronomy workers relaxed and enjoyed the afternoon before they were needed. I couldn’t help but wonder where their careers and lives would take them. I quickly and silently prayed for their health and happiness.

The whirring SubAir. Rolls of sod. A parade of fairway units. Capable grounds crews. We were evacuated once earlier in the day, returned to the grounds and were evacuated again after 4 p.m. as these impressive teams went to work. The course is kept to pristine standards, clearly, and it is its own brand of gorgeous. What stood out to me most was a man driving the edge of the fairway and stopping every few feet to pick up a single pine cone or small pieces of bark no bigger than half a pecan cluster. Total intensity, total dedication. That’s why the results are remarkable. There’s no shortcut and no substitute for ample resources, understanding and hard work. It’s an outstanding achievement.  

I had a great time and was grateful for the opportunity. The property is alive. There’s always going to be something new or different, including the much-discussed gnomes, even though the traditions are deeply rooted and it feels like everything has always been where it is. Friends and acquaintances meeting up and firmly shaking hands. Golf conversations everywhere. It’s like wind rustling the trees, alluring and peaceful. I would call on Augusta National again in a heartbeat. It’s classy. Brilliant. Well done.

It’s the Masters.