Like magic, full-sized trees simply appear at Augusta
AUGUSTA, Ga. – Much of the joy of returning to this beautiful place every spring, other than the celebration of waking up 365 more times, is coming back to discover what is new.
There’s a certain natural elegance about Augusta National, the sheer (manufactured) beauty of nature in its flowering glory and the impossibly green grass and so on. Every year, it seems, they change a hole or three, mostly lengthening them by pushing the tees deeper into the pine woods.
This year, the major renovation has come not in further lengthening an already long golf course, but in the incredible practice area, an 18-acre facility that, one year ago, was a flat gravel parking lot with its entrance off Washington Road.
Now? It’s golf heaven, a wide arc of practice tees that allow 400-yard drives, which renders an unsightly net unnecessary at the other end. There are target bunkers in the landing, plus a small forest of pine trees, 30 and 40 feet tall, that were brought in at that height and planted. There are practice bunkers and a chipping green and the whole area appears to have been there 30 years, awaiting its manicure.
That’s the thing about Augusta. Trees show up in places they’ve never been before and they’re not the little staked fellows that your grandchildren will see mature one day long after we’ve been patted on the face with a spade. They’re brought in as mature individuals from a nursery somewhere that the club owns and replanted.
Great care – meaning zero expense is spared – is exercised everywhere. For instance, when a small flash-quotes media facility was erected near the practice area, a lighting expert was brought in from a TV sports network to show them the best way to light it for the TV cameras.
With the new practice grounds (closed to members, by the way, and therefore used one week a year) in place, the necessity became finding a replacement parking lot. They solved this problem over the years by buying up the surrounding neighbourhood, house by house, over the years, flattening them and planting, or should we say relocating, a few more trees. Presto. There’s now an 8,500-car lot directly across the road from the brand new entranceway, where every ticket holder will be processed and screened.
It all appears like magic, where a year before had stood scrub land and a couple of driving sheds. It’s how they do things down here and, almost as much as the golf, is a portion of the anticipation of returning every year.