For my monthly column in the April issue of Golf Digest (on sale now), I played Augusta’s municipal golf course, which is known locally as the Patch—short for Cabbage Patch. There was frost when I got there, and the parking lot was virtually empty, so after nosing around a little bit I went to Krispy Kreme.
When I returned, I played with Josh and Steve, both journeymen pipefitters, who had driven over from Aiken, South Carolina. They’ve been working as welders on the Savannah River Salt Waste Processing Facility, a job that’s likely to last another two or three years. (“Salt waste” is a semi-euphemism for nuclear waste.) There was a golf-ball-shaped dent on the bottom of Steve’s driver. “That’s from the first time I played,” he said. “It was a sight.” Here they are (Steve is on the left):
The Patch is scrappy, but it’s a good golf course, and it has some awesome bunkers, like this one, next to the first fairway:
Later that day, I met the guy in the photo below, who was playing with his dog. He’s forty-five years old and has been a regular at the Patch since he was twelve. I asked him how the course had changed over the years. “Not at all,” he said. “It changes, but within a very narrow band. It has been twenty percent better, and it has been twenty percent worse, but it’s basically the same.” Once, during a single week, he played all the nearby golf courses with the word “Augusta” in their name: Augusta Country Club, North Augusta Country Club, Augusta Municipal, and Augusta National. He said that he and his dog had just played twenty-seven holes in three hours—a perfect day.
I also saw a couple of young dads, playing with sons:
In the same issue, Ron Whitten and I have articles about two days we spent in Orlando helping the people at EA Sports recreate the Augusta National course as it was in 1934, the year of the first Masters, for their new video game “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14: The Masters Historic Edition.” The result, Whitten writes in the magazine, is “the closest thing to a time machine that golfers will ever experience.” The level of detail is extraordinary. Here’s Whitten during one of our sessions at EA, pointing out an incorrectly positioned tree: