Myths of Augusta

From a selfish point-of-view my favorite PGA Tour major, The Masters, is just about a month away. This time of the golf season is ridiculously exciting for me, especially when considering all that there is to offer in Augusta, GA during the weeks leading up to the tournament. Locals become superstars for a week out of the year, welcoming golf fans from across the world to their home... sometimes literally, should a player need a rental for the week. However, despite what I would call a pretty decent knowledge of the history of the event, I am never ashamed to admit when I am shown a new side of Augusta that I never knew existed.

In his recent article published in GOLF Magazine, Joe Posnanski has done just that... and a pretty impressive job at that, if I might add. His topic? Addressing the lives and livelihood of the Augusta locals during Master's week while also dispelling a few myths surrounding one of the world's greatest courses.

In his article Posnanski addresses what has (presumably) been a common misconception of golf writers while covering the week leading up to the tournament: the existence of a Piggly Wiggly across the street from the course:

So, as someone who lived in Augusta for three and a half years and has come
back to visit many times since, I'm required to break this bit of news to you: There is no Piggly Wiggly grocery store across the street from Augusta National. There has not been a Piggly Wiggly for at least 20 years, and I'm not even sure there was one before that.

Despite this rather inconvenient fact, every year someone will write a story about "The Real Augusta." And it's at least a 50-50 shot that they will write about the Piggly Wiggly across the street. Hey, I'm a sportswriter. I understand. Piggly Wiggly is a funny name for a grocery store. It's a funny detail to include in a story — ha, ha, right across from Amen Corner there's a Piggly Wiggly! But there isn't. There's no Piggly Wiggly there or, for that matter, anywhere else in Augusta.

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Personally, I found this little tidbit completely interesting and hilarious. Why would golf writers fabricate a story detail surrounding Piggly Wiggly? Furthermore, what does that say about the quality of Piggly Wiggly? If I was a writer who made jest regarding this supermarket, I would keep my eyes open for red aprons.

Another common myth regarding Augusta National (one which I have actually heard myself) is that Washington Road, the street leading to the famous course, is lined with southern mansions, luxury, and exclusivity. As Posnanski also points out, this couldn't be further from the truth:

People always write about how Augusta National is on Washington Road, a tacky (always "tacky") four-lane street lined with chain stores, fast-food restaurants, a Hooters, various strip malls, and an IHOP and Waffle House barely two miles apart. We were always amazed by the amazement of the visiting writers. They were shocked — and seemingly offended — by Washington Road. Apparently their cities had no fast-food restaurants or strip malls.

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This April, while millions of golf fans will be wondering if a certain disgraced golfer will be making an appearance on Augusta National's fairways (and I don't mean Greg Norman), these same fans may be missing out on the mystique of Augusta as a regular, everyday type of town that just so happens to host a historic golf tournament. The Georgian town is, in many ways, exactly like your hometown fifty-one weeks out of the year: people still get up to go to work every day while others search for employment; people break laws (albeit seldom) and pay fines on occasion; health care is a struggle for many without insurance; and yes, sometimes people like to go to Hooters for "wings".

Perhaps this is why The Masters holds such a special place in my golf fandom: the fact that for one week, a regular town flourishes into the golf mecca, only to eventually return to regular ol' Augusta the following Monday.