September 15, 2005



Start: Columbia, South Carolina
End:
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Mileage: 291 miles
Route taken: Interstate 20 west to Interstate 520 (Bobby Jones Expressway) to Highway 25 south to Interstate 16 east to Highway 17, exit at
St. Simons Island.

 

        I had two old friends that I was going to visit on this day of riding.

        The first was an hour away from Columbia and I was eager to see this friend again, even if it was going to be from a distance.

        Off of Interstate 20, just over the South Carolina/Georgia border is the town of Augusta and the home of Augusta National Golf Club.

        The golf course is one of the most special places I have ever been to, and I have long maintained that not only is it the best event in golf, it is the best event in sports.

        The tradition, the history, and the aura of the grounds are all very special to me. I haven’t been there in a couple of years because are newspaper doesn’t want to send me, and it has really bothered me.

        I don’t understand the decision because it seems so illogical to me, and every year when it comes on television, it is hard to for me to watch it.

        The club was closed, not due to open for another month, and I parked the motorcycle right at the front entrance.

 

        For being as prestigious as it is, the club is very unassuming. Trees line the front of the gates on Washington Road and a fence with green tarp prevents prying eyes looking inward.

        The main entrance is the exception. The black wrought iron gates show Magnolia Lane and it attracts the curious. In my five minutes there, two men drove up and took pictures in front of the gate. I offered to take a picture of them in front of the small sign that is the only visible proof of the club’s address.
 

        One of the men was from Illinois and the other from Tennessee. Neither had been to the tournament, but both were hopeful that one day they would get a chance to gain entrance.

        The man from Illinois took his hand reached inside the gate and touched the asphalt.

        “There, I can say now that I have touched the hallowed grounds of Augusta National.”

        It was tough to pull myself away from the club, but I had to be in St. Simons Island by nightfall and still had at least three hours of riding remaining.

        My friend Michael was waiting for me in my second favorite town.

        My affection for St. Simons Island is well known. It is like a sister town to where I live, Sunset Beach.

        I have spent a lot of time in this little southern resort town and every time I come here I get a little more attached.  

        This time though, it is making it a challenge to like it. The temperature is 93 degrees and with the humidity, the heat index is 103.

        Humidity and I have never gotten along and the air begins to choke me as I am coming down Highway 17, right out of Savannah.
 

        Shade by the tall pine trees that line the road provide ample cover heat and combined with the movement of the bike, make the ride extremely tolerable.

        When I reach Damien, I am about 12 miles away, but the slight retreat in the heat gives it away that I am getting close to the coast.

A small bridge elevates me up out of the trees and into view of the marshes that snake out towards the Atlantic Ocean.

When I reach the Torras Causeway I can see the shrimp and fishing boats in the bay as the late afternoon sun beats off the water and reflects its shimmer in my eyes.

Michael is outside to greet me as I pull up and I know the next couple of days are going to be exactly what my mourning soul needs.