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The Masters: Condoleezza connects; Conway residents rave about new facility

Posted: April 8, 2013 - 6:53pm
Special/Photo from Alan English
Conway Area Chamber of Commerce’s Jamie Gates, from left, Morgan Miller, from St. Augustine, Fla., Jay Caldwell, from Conway, Ron Davidson, from St. Augustine, Fla., Condoleezza Rice, Rob West, from St Augustine, Fla., and Log Cabin Democrat publisher Alan English pose for a photo during the first practice round of the Masters Gold Tournament at Berckmans Place on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Course. Ms. Rice was greeting the first guests arriving at Berckmans Place.

AUGUSTA, GA. — If there was any question of how visible Condoleezza Rice would be this week at her first Masters Tournament since becoming an Augusta Na­tional Golf Club member, it was answered Monday morning.

Rice, who joined Darla Moore as the club’s first female members, greeted early arrivals at the official opening of Berckmans Place, the club’s new hospitality venue on the Augusta National’s property in an area behind the fifth green.

“We turned the corner to the entrance to Berckmans Place, and there was Condo­leezza Rice standing there welcoming all the guests in for the morning,” said Jay Caldwell, of Conway, who had a Berckmans Place badge for the day.

Caldwell, who said he arrived about 8 a.m., described the experience of meeting Rice as “incredible. We took a picture with her and she introduced herself to all of us. It was over the top.

“She was really just there as a gracious host,” Caldwell added. “A pretty memorable welcome.”

As was the visit to Berck­mans Place, which had a soft opening last year but wasn’t completed until this year. According to Sports Business Journal, a Berckmans Place badge, good from Monday through Sunday of Masters Week, goes for $6,000 and is all-inclusive for food and beverages. It is available to Augusta National members, tournament sponsors and other friends of the club, according to the magazine.

Jamie Gates, a fellow Con­way resident who joined Caldwell on Monday, said Berckmans Place has three restaurants, all named after famous Augusta National and Masters figures.

There is Ike’s (named after former president and Au­gus­ta National member Dwight Eisenhower), Calamity Jane’s (named after Masters and Augusta National co-founder Bobby Jones’ putter) and Mackenzie’s, a Scottish-themed restaurant and bar named after course co-designer Alister Mackenzie. There is also outdoor dining, Gates and Caldwell said.

They also noticed a merchandise shop that they said offers items not available at the on-course shops.

Outside the building, Cald­well and Gates said, there are replicas of three Au­gus­ta National greens — Nos. 7, 14 and 16 — that badge holders can putt on. Clubs and balls are provided, as are caddies, they said.

The bentgrass greens are not full-size replicas, but the slopes are true to the originals.

“It looked like Disney World or Las Vegas,” Cald­well said of Berckmans Place. “The interior was immaculate. It seemed like you were in a different country. There were rock walls and rock floors. It was incredible.”

Said Gates: “For a brand-new facility, it already has an overwhelming sense of tradition, which is pretty impressive when you think they just took the shrink-wrap off of it. You’re overwhelmed by the sense of tradition built into the new facility. I don’t know how you pull that off.”

When entering Berck­mans Place, they said, the first thing you see is an oversized reproduction of a July 15, 1931, article in The Augusta Chronicle announcing the creation of Augusta National. The headline is “Bobby Jones to Build His Ideal Golf Course on Berckmans’ Place.”

There are also shadowbox displays of memorabilia from Augusta National and Mas­ters co-founder Clifford Rob­erts and Eisenhower, and a tribute to Jones’ Grand Slam year of 1930.

Caldwell said Berckmans Place “just flows right into the normal part of the course. We just walked right out and walked right into the normal stream of everybody else.”

The Augusta Chronicle is owned by Morris Publishing Group and a sister paper to the Log Cabin Democrat.

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Reaganesque 04/09/13 - 06:49 am

What will liberals call her? :)

Rhonda Overbey
Rhonda Overbey 04/09/13 - 06:55 am

That's incredible - I would've fainted if I'd rounded a corner and saw her standing there! Totally lost my cool if I ever had any.
What an honor for Condi to meet Jamie, Jay and Alan too! Looks like a fun trip!

Ghostrider 04/09/13 - 06:56 am

With my ribs I would like a side of Condoleezza Rice and some Brett Favre

Thank You

crypted quill
crypted quill 04/09/13 - 09:19 am
Condi, The Warrior Princess

Condi, The Warrior Princess won over the Conway Chamber of Commerce... how 'ineradicably' sad!

Question: Was she looking for that mushroom cloud in Berckmans Place, or apologizing for 4000 soldiers deaths in Iraq? Did the Conway Chamber of Commerce even know Condi led us into an unnecessary war?

David 04/09/13 - 10:49 am

Play nice, kids. These visitors were "in a different country." You know, "like Disney World or Las Vegas." That Iraq thing never really happened in those places.

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