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The Masters: A Throw Back to a More Elegant Time

Augusta, Georgia's beautiful skyline

Food at the U.S. Masters Gold Tournament reflects old time tradition.

Every April thousands of fans descend on the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia to watch the top golf professionals battle for the coveted prize – a green jacket. Only Tournament winners and members of the elite club may own the specialized green jacket. Many consider this golf tournament the most prestigious competition in the world.

I was fortunate to be invited for a visit and found the grounds of the impeccably groomed Club more beautiful in person than on television. Azaleas, dogwoods, wisteria and camellias bloom as if set in a botanical garden rather than on a golf course. Every view was photo worthy- except I had no camera.

The Augusta National shrouds itself in secrecy and Club decrees become the unquestioned law. No cell phones, cameras or electronic gadgets allowed on the property—period, end of discussion. Obey golf etiquette while in attendance or you will be immediately escorted off the premises. Yet, the atmosphere is still welcoming and dignified. I cannot tell you how many times I was asked if my day was going well?  The Masters is tradition at its finest.

U.S. Masters Pimento Cheese Sandwich

Who knew that we’d be offered pimento cheese sandwiches at one of the most upscale golf courses in America?

Fans walk the course following their favorite pro or sit in the grandstands and watch threesomes play through. Some grandstand seats are strategically located so patrons can watch the putting green and the tee shot for the next holes. Grounds-keepers blow any fallen leaves off the greens between players.

Naturally, there are no porta potties on this distinguished course. Stone cottage bathhouses are scattered over the grounds and are well staffed. It was rather fun to see a line for the men’s room and not for the women’s.

Nearby telephone banks offer free phone calls anywhere in the world. But, without cell phones, who can remember numbers! Furthermore, who wants to miss the exciting action?

When guests feel hungry, food stations offer an array of choices at prices that are throwbacks to the 1960’s. Sandwiches cost $1.50 to $2.00, a big bag of chips another dollar. The most popular and traditional meal choices are egg salad or pimento cheese sandwiches on soft white bread. Who knew? I tried the egg salad that was tasty with not too much mayonnaise, but it lacked the pickle relish I prefer. The pimento cheese had a nice texture and a certain level of heat, a mild spicy after bite.

Drink options include cola, diet cola, lemon lime, sport drink, lemonade or tea–no name brands. Beer choices are regular beer, lite beer at $3.00 or the imported choice at $4.00. Candy bars sell for a dollar or try the new dessert option: Georgia Peach ice cream sandwich made with two sugar cookies.

More to see in Augusta

My day on the course was all too short, but certainly one I will always remember. And don’t just go to Augusta for the golf. I also visited the Augusta Museum of History featuring a fascinating collection of golf memorabilia and the most complete display on local hero, James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. I also took a Trolley Tour and a Petersburg Boat Tour of the Augusta Canal, a waterway vital to the South during the Civil War.

Beautiful walkway along the river in Augusta, GA

The walkway along the river in Augusta, GA, is just one of this Southern city’s many delights.

Dining options include the revived downtown district with locally owned restaurants and talented chefs.  I can vouch for the Bee’s Knees- a tapas menu, Frog Hollow Tavern for top of the line choices and the Boll Weevil for the most amazing and huge slices of cake.

If you’d like to feel like you’re at the Masters, here’s a recipe for the Masters famous Four-Cheese Pimento Sandwiches you can make at home. (Omit the blue cheese and Parmesan cheese if you want to more closely replicate the one served at the Club.) – Deb Lander, RFT CorrespondentDebi Lander


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Debi Lander

Debi Lander is a freelance journalist and photographer specializing in travel, food and lifestyle. She currently calls St. Augustine, Florida home, but frequently follows an unrelenting desire to get away and explore. While on the road, she enjoys tasting local cuisine from hole-in-the-wall eateries to fine dining and wine establishments.Debi is a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and Society of American Travel Writers. Her website,, features published stories from her global adventures and a link to her travel journal: The Luggage Diaries.Her food blog, Bylandersea-Food Tales, offers restaurant, product, and cookbook reviews as well as recipe triumphs and failures in her own kitchen.