Masters 2022: 11 signs that Augusta National has really fallen off*
(*By Augusta National's insanely, ridculously high standards, that is)
AUGUSTA, Ga. — There are few places in the world that conjure the words "perfect" and "flawless" more than Augusta National. You'll often hear wide-eyed patrons remark, There's not a single blade of grass out of place here! Talk about hyperbole. I've definitely seen a blade of grass out of place. Maybe even two.
In fact, while walking around at the 2022 Masters, it's become apparent that this place has lost a few miles per hour off its fastball. Granted, Augusta National is still Aroldis Chapman in that clunky baseball analogy, just not peak 105-mph Aroldis. Anyway, we wanted to prove that if you look hard enough, you can find a few flaws here. Kind of. Oh, and full disclosure, I also just found out I didn't win the media lottery to play the course on Monday so what do I have to lose? OK, here's our list.
1. The ground is not perfectly dry
Yeah, yeah, it's rained about 3 inches this week, but doesn't this place have the best Sub-Air system money can buy? Shouldn't the ground be dry by now? Come to think of it, why hasn't the club figured out a way to pay for a dome yet? Is that too much to ask? Anyway, pray for all the patron's—and media members'—shoes.
2. There are no Georgia peach ice cream sandwiches
Not on the grounds. Not in the media center. This Masters delicacy is nowhere to be found this week, apparently due to supply-chain issues. Who knew Augusta National could even be affected by such a thing? Anyway, it's rough—especially at around 4 o'clock when you're looking for something to hold you over until dinner. We said these aren't ranked, but if they were, this would have to be No. 1. The Dove bars are delicious, but they're just not the same. I mean, how am I supposed to work under these conditions?! Speaking of concessions …
3. Concession prices are up
Like the Costco hot dog, the famed Masters pimento-cheese sandwich remained priced at $1.50. But several other sandwiches cost 50 cents more this year! And domestic beer is up a whole buck to $5! To be clear, everything is still a fantastic deal—especially compared to other sporting events—but maybe the club should spend less time "Tiger-proofing" the course and more time "Inflation-proofing" their concession stands.
4. Someone was wearing blue jeans!
I didn't actually see it for myself, but according to a co-worker, there was a patron wearing (gulp) denim. With holes in them. And his lady friend was clad in biker shorts and a sports bra. Clifford Roberts would be disgusted—and we don't blame him. This is AUGUSTA NATIONAL! Not an Atlanta Braves game.
5. There are planes flying banners
These things are a real eye-sore! Granted, they were all about five miles away, so none were close enough for my old eyes to actually read the banners. Not to mention you can kind of hear them. Just appalling situation. I thought Augusta National had a strict no-fly zone!
6. There are … birds?
Co-worker Shane Ryan expertly addressed the odd bird situation at Augusta National earlier in the week, but it turns out the club doesn't have these flying creatures completely under control. Just look at this rogue one nearly interrupting play!
Cue George Costanza saying, "We had a deal!"
7. The azaleas aren't fully bloomed
Of course, this is ultimately Mother Nature's doing, but the club usually, somehow, seems to "time" this just perfectly. Which I can confirm, as someone who inherited a couple azalea bushes when I bought my house, is an amazing feat. Those things look fantastic in full bloom, but that only lasts about a week tops. Anyway, they still look great, but not quite as great as usual.
8. The Wi-Fi is a tad slow
I realize anyone reading this has very little sympathy for me as I type between bites of a Masters classic chicken sandwich and sips of Crow's Nest beer while gazing out at Augusta National's glorious practice range, but, yeah, the Internet connection could be a touch faster. Just saying.
9. A scoreboard operator made a (brief) mistake
It lasted for about 30 seconds, but I caught it on Thursday. A red "1" went on the board by the eighth green indicating Jon Rahm had just eagled the par-4 seventh. As someone who bet on Jon Rahm to win the tournament, this got me excited. However, moments later, that red "1" was changed to green, meaning my guy was still one over. Sigh. Sloppy effort!
10. There was a loud beep at Amen Corner
A loud, sustained beep, that is. And it was really jarring. We were taking in the action at No. 12 at 11:22 on Friday morning and suddenly we heard the horrifying noise that must have been caused by a nearby golf cart backing up. Bobby Jones would have given that worker an all-time tongue lashing. A tongue lashing I say! Just unacceptable.
11. There were four leaves in the first fairway
The grounds crew that scurries out from the trees during pauses in the action to clean up actually missed a spot on the spacious property during Friday's second round. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. Truly shocking. Do better, Augusta. Do better.