Long before returning to Philadelphia to take a gig with Eyewitness News, I was slogging through the graveyard shift at WJBF News Channel 6 in Augusta, Georgia.
It was a small town, kind of sleepy, sitting on the Savannah River and centering a metro area of about 600,000 people, which is 5.4 million fewer folks than what we’ve got up here. We were television market #117, sandwiched between the hustling and bustling cities of Fort Wayne and Reno on the Nielsen charts.
College football dominated Augusta, about 60/40 Georgia Bulldog to South Carolina Gamecock fans, with other SEC expats finding work in town. A couple of division two basketball programs, Augusta State and USC-Aiken, actually had a nice little rivalry going. High school football used to draw a few thousand people every Friday night, too, which was insane and very typically southern. This was the real deal, and it made games at Garnet Valley or St. Joe’s Prep look insignificant in comparison.
But the king sport in town was golf, obviously. I used to drive by Augusta National at 10:45 p.m. on my way to work, and there it was, just sitting across the street from an IHOP and a Christian book store – the most famous golf course in the world. All I could see was a brief glimpse of the clubhouse down Magnolia Lane, because massive trees blocked the rest of the course from sight. If you weren’t looking for it, you’d easily miss it.
Maybe The Masters is a niche thing, but you should put it on your bucket list and make the trip down there sometime, because it’s a really unique and enjoyable experience.
I went in 2008 and 2009, and I doubt much has changed in ten years’ time. The cool thing about the course is that it’s very old fashioned, from the scoreboard to the vendors and everything in between. And it’s not in some exotic location outside of the city proper, it’s located on a stretch called Washington Road, which I’d describe as a Baltimore Pike type of thoroughfare featuring all sorts of stores and fast food joints. You literally pass an Arby’s and an Olive Garden and then Augusta National is just up ahead, on your right.