Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

A closer look at picture-
perfect Augusta

THERE is more to every story. There is more to the picture than what's on the postcard. We in Hawaii know this.

We know we have beaches and blue skies, but there is real life, too.

We have jobs.

We have traffic.

We have to take out small loans to go grocery shopping.

And I'm never quite sure how to feel whenever someone who spends two or three weeks a year at a fancy resort says, "Hawaii has always felt like home to me."

Um, yeah. Whatever.

We live in the greatest place on Earth. But it's great because it's our home, and it's real. Because we -- the real Hawaii -- are so much more than a postcard stereotype.

Which brings me to Augusta. Every golf fan in the world is looking at Augusta this week. Every would-be poet gets lyrical over the Masters.

When we think Augusta we think of azaleas, and Amen Corner. And Arnie. And Jack.

And Martha and her marchers shaking signs in that glorious Augusta mud.

But we're not getting the whole picture, of course.

People always say we only see what Augusta National and CBS want us to see. And that's true.

A few years ago I was looking into a job in Augusta. So I did what anyone would do. I asked another sportswriter who'd had that job a few years before.

We've all heard the poetry. But what is Augusta really like?

"I'll tell you straight out that getting the (Augusta) job was the break of my life," he said, "though it didn't feel that way at the time. Mostly it felt this way: really, really hot. I don't know how well you adapt to hot, but we're talking scorching. Stop signs sweat in Augusta. You should know that right up front."

I've never seen that on CBS.

You'd think Jim Nantz could really describe that rather colorfully.

"There's no day in America more depressing than Augusta the day after the Masters," the guy said. "The azaleas wilt, the world leaves, and you are left looking at a long, hot, humid, horrible summer. Nothing happens in Augusta in the summer."

That sounded depressing.

It seemed the place wasn't quite so perfect away from those green jackets, past Martha's mud hole and down the road from those pearly gates.

People would come and go, it seemed.

You don't walk down the street to the ripple of a chorus of golf claps.

You almost never hear soothing, inspirational background music, once that magical week has passed.

Tiger isn't hanging out at the local Burger King.

But you know what? The more the guy remembered, the better it got.

The place wasn't a painting. But it was better.

"I had the time of my life in Augusta," he said. "But the funny thing is, I didn't know it. Every day, I would wake up desperate to get out. But now, I realize that I met most of my best friends there. I got to write whatever I wanted there. I met amazing people there. I was happy there."

It sounds like a place I know.

"But it's damned hot," the guy said. "Don't kid yourself about that."

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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