The Masters: My Augusta vs. Their Augusta

For a split second, I almost forgot that I'd moved.

I usually have the local news on in the background early in the morning while I feed the baby. The anchor, a blonde who looks at her co-anchor almost as much as she does the camera, dropped the phrase "Tournament Week," and my mind went to basketball.

Wait a minute. This isn't Charlotte, where "Tournament Week" is a reference to the annual CIAA basketball tournament that takes over Uptown Charlotte at the end of February. 

No, the anchor was talking about a completely different sport. During the first full week of April in Augusta, golfers and golf fans come here for The Masters tournament. It's pretty much the one thing my hometown is known for to people outside the region.

(I discovered that when I lived in North Carolina. "Oh, where are you from?" "Augusta, Georgia." "Never heard of it." "You know, where they host the Masters?" "Oh yeah!")

Shot of Augusta National taken in 2012 by Brett Chisum/Creative Commons

Shot of Augusta National taken in 2012 by Brett Chisum/Creative Commons

Last week, a blog titled "Confessions of an Augusta native" came across my newsfeed, and I clicked it with some curiosity. I'm an Augusta native! I bet this piece will speak to me! 

The writer's intention was to share what Masters week, also known as spring break, is like for us locals, but as I read through her eight bullet points, I found myself shaking my head. She purports to speak for me, using words like "all of Augusta," "we," and "everybody," but it's clear her Augusta and my Augusta are very different. 

For example, she writes, "Everybody cleans their houses immaculately, rents them out, and leaves for the week." Actually, no, not everybody does this. I mean, I wish I owned a big-ass house near the Augusta National that someone like Mark Wahlberg would be willing to pay a few thousand dollars to rent from me.

Instead, my guy and I are renting a four-bedroom home a few minutes away from the mall. By all accounts, it's a nice neighborhood. One night late last year, though, I was up watching the 11 o'clock news, where I discovered a man had been shot and killed earlier that evening at a house just up the street from us.

My parents, who've lived in Augusta since the early 80s, own a home on the southside, but they've never rented it out for Masters week either. They've recently had to install an alarm system after someone cut the lock on their outdoor shed and stole lawn equipment and tools.

I point out these crimes because I think during Masters week my city pretends to be this shiny thing it's not. The aforementioned blog gushes about Augusta and this prestigious tournament. The writer raves, "I love seeing the yellow National logo outside of Augusta. It reminds me of how special the place is that I’ve always called home."

Truth be told, many people don't even want to live in the county in which the Augusta National calls home. Not with beautiful Evans, voted 43rd out of the 50 best places to live in the U.S., nearby. 

And certainly, the players who've been invited to compete here have worked their asses off, but it's no secret the Augusta National Golf Club has a long history of exclusivity. It wasn't until 2012 that they even admitted women members, for goodness' sake.

I love the national attention my hometown gets, and I'm all for economic growth. But let's keep it real, shall we? Those who are privileged enough to experience the Masters the way it's intended (that is, getting the chance to watch the players play, not work long hours to service the out-of-towners) live a very different life from most of us Augusta natives.