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Old 04-29-2008, 02:59 PM   #15
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A Cracker Barrel somewhere deep into NC gave us respite for a few hours.
An early wake up and we were off to Alexander Stephens State Park in Crawfordville, Ga.

Crawfordville is about 1 hour west of Augusta and probably a couple hours east of Atlanta. The camping facilities are immaculate. Very large, level pull-through sites, and lots of fun stuff to do there on-site for the whole family. ($23/night. Underpriced compared to what you get in the northeast.) But we were there for something else.

After getting established at the campground and taking showers we met up with the guys with the badges. They had just spent Saturday walking the course. And to me, they looked like sunburned angels! These badges are absolutely gorgeous with a high def photo of Hogan's Bridge and the 12th green. The two of them jumped back into their car and I stood there for a moment just looking at these beauties.... Then my northeast paranoia kicked in and I stuffed them into my pocket for fear that someone might recognize what I had and try something. (They woulda had a battle I tell ya! )

Which brings me to an observation I had many times while down south: Southern Hospitality is real, and it is plentiful. We have lots of really nice people here in the Northeast but the "niceness" is somehow different down south. It seems to be more open and welcoming. It must be a cultural thing because it's how they all communicate. At first, there were a couple of times when the hospitality made me a little nervous. It came from out of nowhere, (Egad! Strangers!!) which tends to make me a little defensive. But then I realized that this how the South operates.

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Old 05-02-2008, 10:43 AM   #16
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Sunday at the Masters!

Masters eve I could barely sleep.

Traffic to Augusta National was minimal. Parking right next to the course was free! My wife and I and our 7-year old boy walked right in at about 9 a.m.

For the first time in Masters' history, kids under 16 (18?) were admitted free of charge. (Very classy move.) And within 3 minutes of passing through the gates I ran into a friend I've known for over 10 years. Ed had just come out of the gift shop with lots of Masters trinkets and was taking them over to an area where they'll ship your stuff home.

We went into the giftshop and thoroughly abused my credit card as well. And now that we had our Masters caps and Masters chairs we headed out to see the course!

But wait. Nobody's on the course yet. Let's go check out the driving range. They have a beautiful (of course) driving range with bleachers behind the tee for spectators. We scored front row seats and sat behind Mike Weir for awhile. What a great swing! After about a half hour of that we headed out for the course.

I had already decided that we would just see the course in order, 1-18, instead of parking in one spot or following 1 or 2 groups. As we left the driving range, I was quickly walking ahead of my wife and kid who were about 10-12 feet behind me. When I looked back, they were being stopped and ropes were being held up, cutting off all foot traffic. Why? Tiger Woods was making his way to the clubhouse! He walked right by my wife and kid and you shoulda seen the looks on their faces. When the ropes went down, my son came running up to me to tell me he had just seen Tiger!!!

We eventually came out of the cover of the magnificient and cool magnolias and I just stood there looking out at the course below.

At this point everything started to slow waaay down.

I wanted to take in everything and savor every moment. The clubhouse, the practice green, the azaleas, Butler cabin, Ike's house, the 10th tee, the 18th and 9th greens, the 1st tee....

For the next hour or so I kept having to pinch myself. I swear my feet never even touched the ground....

The rest of the day, for me, was about experiencing the golf course. I was seeing things in hi-def. It was all way more spectacular than I had imagined. I remember walking across the 15th fairway so slowly that I thought security might get involved.

Prices: As I said before, my kid got in for free and the parking was free. Sandwiches (e.g. pimento & cheese ) $1.25, beers $1.50, chips, peanuts, ice cream, water, soda, etc. CHEAP!! And they all had the Masters logo on them. No corporate sponsors for this tournament!

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