Left Athens and headed for the Lowcountry along some great backroads. Along the way I saw some of the most beautiful countryside I've seen in ages. It also brought me by Augusta during the Masters Tournament, and I had no idea it would be so difficult. It wasn't the traffic (none); it was the memories.
The Masters goes way back for me and my family, right back to my grandfather who was a golf professional in his earlier years and a personal friend of Bobby Jones. My grandfather never missed a tournament until the year he died. It was as much a part of him as the snow white hair on his head. It was my honor to attend The Masters with him, something I'll never forget.
Bobby Jones started The Masters. So it was pretty neat to see this sign as I was zooming by. I had wanted to stop by the course and take a picture of the entrance as a way to remember it, but when I realized the tournament was being played, I had to be content with just my memories.
But what memories. Being with my grandfather was like being with a celebrity wherever we went. Everyone knew him. And if they didn't know him, they soon did, because he loved talking to people and made friends everywhere. Plus, at 6'7" tall, he was pretty hard to miss.
It was great hearing them mention Gene Sarazen on TV this year after Louis Oosthuizen double-eagled the par 5 2nd hole. Gene Sarazen delivered probably the most well-known shot in golf history -- a double eagle on the par 5 15th -- as he was down by three strokes with just four holes left at The Masters in 1935, and went on to win it. For years it was called "the shot heard 'round the world."
Imagine being a kid and having your grandfather introduce you to his good friend Gene Sarazen, and then turn around minutes later and say "please say hello to Sam Snead." That was what it was like to be with my grandfather.
He took me to his favorite diner, Duke's, and taught me how to eat grits. All the waitresses fawned over him and knew him by name. He brought me to dinner at the Town Tavern where I remember being so jacked up on a whole day's worth of Coca-Cola that I entertained the entire room with "Bert and I" stories from memory while he just sat back and beamed. Sadly these places are just memories too, long since closed (found a reference to them here though).
It's amazing the power of a memory.
I pushed on towards Beaufort, South Carolina, a place I've wanted to see for a long time. It was a very beautiful spot and the town itself was cute cute cute. I was in the mood for raw some oysters, but I couldn't find anyone interested enough to serve me . . . twice. Like many picture-perfect places, sometimes it's best to see it, like it, and leave it the way you found it.
The next morning, I dropped by downtown Savannah, one of the most gorgeous cities in the country. I found a little bakery and had a $5 pecan tart. The lady who waited on me called it the $5 tart so that people knew the price because sometimes they would balk at it, but I told her "today's the day." It felt like a small price to pay to eat something so good in such a beautiful place.
I journeyed on down the coast and tried to get into Sea Island where my grandfather first introduced us to the South. Found out there's a huge security gate now and that you can't just drive into the place anymore. Then I realized I was partly to blame for it.
Back in college, on a spring break road trip (haha, what's new) I had the inspiration to bring a carload of friends into the Sea Island Beach Club to get cleaned up before we got to Daytona Beach. I knew the drill from visiting so many times -- all you had to do was sign in and put down which home or condo you were staying in. We'd just driven non-stop from NH and were filthy and needed showers and shaves before we could even think of picking up girls. I told the men's locker room attendants that we were getting cleaned up there instead of "at my parent's place" to save time before going out to dinner. One of them, George, still remembered me, but I think the other one, Percy, knew I was full of it.
When visiting Sea Island, my grandfather and I would often practice putting in front of The Cloister Hotel. So I wanted to do some putting "with him" as I was passing through, but it wasn't meant to be. Yes, I'm probably partially to blame for the enormous gate. But the good thing is that he's with me whatever I'm doing. That's a fact.
Later on, I drove by Jekyll Island, took this picture, and kept going. For me, the place will forever live in infamy as being the birthplace of monstrosity known as the Federal Reserve.
I had good reason to keep going. I was really happy to be able to drop in and see my parents while on this trip, and to do it on Easter Sunday and on the last day of The Masters was a real treat. I spoke of love and gratitude a few posts ago. I was certainly feeling Love and Gratitude when I saw them and was able to see the tail end of The Masters with them -- one of the few times the television is ever on -- and then enjoy a home-cooked Easter Dinner by my Mom and tell them about my drive past Augusta.
Congratulations to Bubba Watson for winning the 2012 Masters.