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THE OTHER SIDE OF PARADISE
Bil Gilbert
April 05, 1971
A skeptical visitor casts a jaundiced eye on the most sacrosanct golf tournament of all and, come Bobby Jones or high water, finds some things he doesn't like
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April 05, 1971

The Other Side Of Paradise

A skeptical visitor casts a jaundiced eye on the most sacrosanct golf tournament of all and, come Bobby Jones or high water, finds some things he doesn't like

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"How come you need so many officers for that?"

"I tell you, son, if they start anything, we're ready."

"I don't know how he does it," said a lady galleryite, watching Gary Player stride down the fairway. "All that terrible talk and threats and he stays as cool as a cucumber. I'll tell you, if any of those buggers ever did get in here, which I bet they can't, and started any trouble, this crowd would take care of them in pretty short order."

She was probably right. Player drew bigger cheers from the gallery than anybody else, partly because he is a very good golfer and was fighting for the lead all the way, but also because once they put their finger on him he became, like it or not, a symbolic Dixie hero. And if a long-haired boy from the North had perhaps taken a bit too much toddy and had yelled, "Go back to Johannesburg, ya bum!" when Gary was getting ready to putt, it seems likely there would have been such an outburst from the crowd that the protester's continuing good health might have been put into question.

Empire and All That

Even without the Player flap, a Kiplingesque mood hangs about Augusta National. The guarded steel fences and elaborately tended grounds suggest a foreign outpost on some barbarian soil. Inside the compound the white sahibs play and watch others play, while multitudes of dark, agreeable natives attend them. There were no black players at the Masters, and only a bare handful of black spectators. There were, however, black caddies and a lot of black men and women in the clubhouse and locker room, handing out drinks, toting bags, mowing grass, raking traps and picking up cigarette butts.

Technically, the highest-ranking uniformed blacks at the Masters in 1970 were some prison guards dressed and armed for riot duty and stationed near the 16th green, one of the televised holes. Even in normal times there are a lot of cops around the 16th because this is where The Beach is, where all the kids are spread out on the grass. Not that anybody is really worried about these kids, who are neatly barbered and brassiered regular Georgia country club kids.

"Suppose Woodstock and the Masters were going on at the same time," one was asked. "Which one would you like to go to?"

"What," asked the pert teen-ager, "is Woodstock?"

So these are not your average dirty, dopey, degenerate kids, even if a lot of them are not all that big on golf. They come every day because it is the event of the year in Augusta. You show off clothes and bodies, get a little sun, drink a little beer and giggle at cute golfers—just normal kid stuff. But the cops are around to see that the scene doesn't begin to escalate.

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