Two miles south of Augusta National Golf Club, in a neighborhood called The Hill, 12 black men stood outside a bar last Saturday night beneath a sign that said NO WETTING ON BUILDING. They were all professional caddies, and the bar's facade bore a likeness of Burnt Biscuit Bennett, who two years ago caddied for Tiger Woods at the Masters, the same tournament that Woods had seized by the green lapels on Saturday afternoon.
"Am I excited?" said a 47-year-old named Jap, nursing a Bud tallboy and marveling at the stupidity of such a question. "If golf was all black and one white guy was doing this, wouldn't you be? Hell, yes, I'm excited."
"Tomorrow will be special," said 42-year-old Barry Barnes, an Augusta caddie since 1971. "I'll be home to watch Tiger get the green coat. Everyone you see out here tonight, they'll be inside watching Tiger tomorrow."
"It's the same way everyone used to go inside and listen to Joe Louis on the radio," added a man with a salt-and-pepper beard.
As it happened, some Augustans gathered out-of-doors on Sunday afternoon, on the front porch of a tidy white house on The Hill. "This is history," said James Reid, 59, as Tiger was teeing off on his ancient 14-inch TV, "so we might as well watch it on a black-and-white Philco."
Black and white: The subject came up frequently on Sunday. Derrick Dent, a 37-year-old caddie at Augusta National and the nephew of Senior tour player Jim Dent, stood outside the O.K. Pantry, trying to place Woods's imminent victory in perspective. " The Augusta Chronicle ran a column last week saying it was ludicrous for Nike to say that Tiger can't play some courses because of the color of his skin," said Dent. "Well, let me tell you, there's a course in Augusta called Green Meadows—maybe Tiger Woods can play it, but Derrick Dent can't. And it is because of the color of my skin. There's no actual rule, it's just unwritten: You don't go there."
"I don't think they'll ever accept us regular black folks in the country clubs," said Scoby Bentley, 52, once a caddie at Augusta, now a caddie on the Nike tour. "Maybe Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. I would encourage them to form black country clubs."
Meanwhile, black (and white and Asian) golfers were teeing off on Sunday at the Augusta Golf Course, a.k.a. the Cabbage Patch, a muni abutting an airfield. At the Patch on Sunday, a dapper 56-year-old black gentleman named J.B. Tutt sat at a Formica table and talked wearily of race and golf and growing up in Augusta. "When I was younger, I'd stand at the tee and say I was Jack Nicklaus," said Tutt. "I never cared what color Lee Trevino was. I loved Doug Sanders because I loved the way he dressed. I think golf people look at Tiger as a great talent who happens to have a dark complexion."
Dent agreed. He stopped by the house on The Hill to watch Woods on that black-and-white Philco and said, "With Tiger, I'm not motivated by the color of his skin, but by the magnitude of his talent."
The statement echoed Martin Luther King Jr., a fact that wasn't lost on Reid. "Dr. King said you don't judge a man by the color of his skin but by the content of his character," he said as, on the screen, Woods worked his way around Amen Corner. "We all got to go in that hole someday. Nobody gets out of this life alive. And when that time comes, do you really think God cares what color you are?"