When the gates open each year for the annual Masters Tournament, it’s not unusual for the Augusta National Golf Club to unveil new and wondrous additions to their storied acres—some meant to lend comfort and convenience to patrons and guests, others meant to increase the challenge of the golf course.
Most Augusta residents, however, only get to experience the famous ever-improving club vicariously—informed by press releases or more likely by the telltale signs of increased construction traffic around the course or an occasional fleeting glimpse through a gate or a minuscule opening in the dense bamboo wall that surrounds the club.
But this year things are a little different. For the first time in the 20-plus years I’ve lived and traveled daily past the club, the latest great addition is front and center, visible for all to see and enjoy—the “new” Berckmans Road. I must admit that I, like many of my friends and neighbors, was not thrilled at the prospect of such an extensive road project right in my backyard. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong with the ”old“ Berckmans Road. It had been an acceptable thoroughfare for years, causing me little or no inconvenience at all except during a couple of weeks leading up to the Masters—a time when increased traffic and inconvenience are evident throughout the city not just along Berckmans Road.
And it is true that over the past year of construction there were many delays in traffic and a not a few inconveniences. At times I even wondered if the road would be finished by the April 7th deadline. How could anyone possibly complete such an extensive project, not to mention landscaping that would be up to the standards for which the National is so famous? But then again it is the Augusta National Golf Club…
Well, true to their word, the project was finished right on time. To call it a road seems totally inadequate, for it is in reality a parkway. Complete with turn lanes, sidewalks and beautiful park-like landscaping that is very much reflective of the lovely golf course itself—an asset to the city and a pleasure to drive along. As an added bonus, there are rumors that the National has offered to take responsibility for the road’s maintenance, which would assure its continuing aesthetic perfection. Bravo!
So welcome to the 2016 Masters and welcome to the New Berckmans Road.
This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Augusta Magazine.