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Don't just go to Augusta for Masters week - go there in style

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

High rolling golf lovers in Augusta for the Masters can dine in style at restaurants like Bistro 491, sip martinis at the French Market Grille and choose from a range of first-rate golfing options, including Goshen Plantation Country Club.

Augusta River Walk
The Augusta River Walk is a scenic place to stretch your legs away from the golf course.
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Augusta River WalkGoshen Plantation - Hole 3
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - You've got tickets in hand and are headed to Augusta for the Masters and you're pretty darn proud of yourself.

And why not? You've earned it. But you don't want to be just a hanger-on. You want to do Masters week in style.

Augusta is a good place for style. The antebellum city is the second oldest city in Georgia, founded just three years after Savannah, and old-time Southerners appreciate style.

We golf writers know style too, even if we don't look the part. Here's your expert guide for the ultimate stylish Masters week.

Augusta lodging

Do the Partridge Inn (2110 Walton Way, tel. 800-476-6888) in the historic district, with its long, leafy terrace, candlelit dinners in the inn's excellent restaurant and live jazz on weekends.

The inn has several rooms for meetings and parties, and old-time Augustans love the place.

Masters week nightlife

Yes, you have money, but you want to show you can be on the down-low as well as anyone.

Try the Surrey Tavern (471 Highland Ave., tel. 706-736-1221), with its polished dark wood. Playback, a nine-piece soul band, is performing here for Masters week for the eighth year in a row, heavy on the James Brown.

Also, a caddie from Augusta National called "Little Butch" will be singing, and he has quite a following.

For the best martinis, try the French Market Grille (425 Highland Ave., tel. 706-737-4865).

Augusta-area golf courses

Let's say you aren't depressed by watching Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and the boys, but are actually inspired. If they can do it, why not you? You've brought your golf clubs and you're eager to put what you've seen to work.

First, be aware that green fees at Augusta golf courses are radically jacked up during Masters week, like everything else in town. We aren't allowed to use the term "gouge" in such a classy place, but let's just say you'll be paying well above the usual rate. Still, there are some very good courses to play in the area, so much so that Golf Digest named Augusta-Aiken one of the better metro areas in the country for golf.

Goshen Plantation Country Club (1601 Goshen Clubhouse Dr., tel. 706-793-1168) may be the best bargain in the Augusta area, with green fees of $29 weekdays, including cart, and $39 on weekends during normal times. During Masters week, green fees shoot up to $100. It has one of the best practice areas anywhere, with a 400-yard driving range with good targets, and a short-game area that lets you practice even fairway bunker shots. The front nine has some nice elevation, though it's not as dramatic as some other area courses, and its greens are probably the best in Augusta outside of Augusta National.

• The River Golf Club (307 Riverside Blvd. in North Augusta, S.C., tel. 803-202-0110) is one of those admirable golf courses risen, literally, from the rubbish heap. It sits on the site of an abandoned railroad yard and former illegal dump, a five-iron over the Savannah River from Augusta. Many locals will tell you this is their favorite course.

• Private West Lake Country Club (3556 West Lake Dr., tel. (706) 863-4642) is available for public play during Masters week.

Shopping

For the men, try The Boardroom (3604 Verandah Dr., tel. 706-733-6203). The women will like Summerville Rags (1502 Monte Sano Ave. tel. 706-738-4888), Macy's (3450 Wrightsboro Rd., tel. 706-738-8859), and Tuscany Spa (608 Ponder Place Dr., tel. 706-210-5335).

Massage

After you've pulled some muscles busting some moves at the Surrey Tavern, you'll need help. Try Tuscany Spa, or Health Central Wellness (945 Broad St., tel. 706-724-4408).

Dining

Augusta has some excellent fine dining. For the best, make reservations at Bistro 491 (491 Highland Ave., tel. 706-738-6491) in Surrey Center, Chow (1717 Laney Walker Blvd., tel. 706-733-1740) and La Maison (404 Telfair St. tel. 706-722-4805).

Attractions

Augusta has invested a lot in its riverwalk, and it shows. The two-tiered, paved path wanders along the Savannah River downtown, with wide views of the water, and across the river to South Carolina, and includes an outdoor amphitheater. Art lovers will enjoy the Morris Museum (1 Tenth St., tel. 706-724-7501), whose gallery of Southern art includes paintings from local artists and the internationally famous. Also: the Ezekiel Harris House Museum (1822 Broad St., tel. 706-737-2820), the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area (1450 Greene St., tel. 706-823-0440), and the boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson (419 Seventh St., tel. 706-722-9828).

Celebrity watching

You've seen them in their lair, now you want to see them as real human beings, eating and drinking like the rest of us. Your best bet for seeing the world's elite golfers out and about, aside from those who don't immediately go home to their beautiful, Swedish wives, is to troll the sports bars on Washington Road, near Augusta National.

Try to stay away from the chains, like Hooters; pick spots with a little local flavor. Beware, Washington Road from Interstate 20 to downtown will be packed with traffic, so you'll need patience and a designated driver.

Robbie's Sports Bar (2834 Washington Rd., tel. 706-738-0866), also known as "Hackers Hideaway," is definitely not a chain; this ain't no fern bar. You'll be slumming here. It's sort of a down-and-dirty, though comfortable, place with 15 pool tables, hanging TVs and a trough in the men's urinal. Hard-driving rock and roll blares from the speakers. It's a friendly, scruffy crowd, the kind that spills shots on the bar. Just the sort of place John Daly and Darren Clarke might like. Europeans like this bar. Sergio Garcia certainly does - he's been spotted here. Locals say Ernie Els' "psychology coach" is also a fan.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


 
Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Masters Week.

    Lee wrote on: Mar 12, 2009

    A better option for lodging, stay at Reynolds Plantation. It is about a 45 min. drive up the interstate in Greensboro, Georgia. It is a little further, but Agusta is so crowded it is not worth staying there. The golf is second to none at Reynolds. Dining at Reynolds is excellent Stayed there in 08, my wife and I are now looking at buying a 2nd home there, by the way we live in Texas.

    Reply

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