Author Archives: Kristy Johnson

Tournament Tips & Landmarks

Masters Guide

Course LandmarksMagnolia Lane – tree-lined main entrance to Augusta National

Founders Circle – two plaques honoring founding members Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones at the base of the flagpole in front of the clubhouse

Crow’s Nest – a cupola atop the clubhouse that provides tournament housing for amateur players 

Oak-TreeBig Oak Tree – a gathering spot for media interviews behind the clubhouse

Rae’s Creek between the 11th and 12th greens 

Hogan Bridge at No. 12 green 

Nelson Bridge at No. 13 tee

Sarazen Bridge at No. 15 green

3.-Landmark--Arnold-Palmer-Plaque-behind-No.-16-teeArnold Palmer Plaque behind No. 16 tee 

Jack Nicklaus Plaque between Nos. 16 and 17

Record Fountain to the left of No. 17 green

Augusta National Golf Club cabins

Ike’s Pond – a spring-fed, 3-acre pond on the Par-3 Course behind Eisenhower Cabin

Par 3 Fountain – adjacent to No. 1 tee on Par 3 course; includes list of Par 3 Contest winners 


Prohibited Items
• Cell phones, beepers, tablets and other electronic devices
• Any device capable of transmitting photo/video*
• Backpacks, bags and purses larger than 10” x 10” x 12” (in its natural state)
• Cameras on tournament days**
• Weapons of any kind (regardless of permit)
• Radios/TVs/noise- or music-producing devices
• Folding armchairs/rigid type chairs
• Flags/banners/signs
• Strollers
• Food/beverages/coolers
• Golf shoes with metal spikes
• Ladders/periscopes/selfie sticks

Augusta National MastersViolation of these policies will subject the ticket holder to removal from the grounds and the ticket purchaser to the permanent loss of credentials.

*Fitness tracking bands and electronic watches are permitted. However, they cannot be used for phone calls, emails, text messages and other photo, video or data recording and transmission.

**Cameras (still photography/personal use only) are allowed at practice rounds on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tournament Amenities:

  • Concession stands
  • First aid stations
  • Golf shops
  • Information centers
  • Lost and found
  • Merchandise shipping/check stands
  • Message center
  • Pairing sheets with course map and tee times
  • Parking
  • Picnic areas
  • Patron photos at Founders Circle, free of charge, on all days, Monday-Sunday
  • Restrooms
  • Scoring information
  • Spectator guides
  • Telephones
  • Water fountains

Autograph Policy
For player safety and protection, there is a no autograph policy enforced on the golf course. Autograph seeking is only allowed in areas adjacent to the Tournament Practice Area and on the Par 3 course during the Par 3 Contest.

Re-Entry Policy
Patrons will be allowed one re-entry per day.

Method of Payment Accepted 
All facilities at Augusta National Golf Club are cashless. Credit card and debit card are the only accepted methods of payment at concession stands, merchandise shops and shipping locations.

Free Masters parking is available at Augusta National Golf Club on a first-come, first-serve basis.

On Top of the World

Masters Guide
Augusta National Masters Tournament

Photos courtesy of Augusta National Golf Club

Golf’s No. 1 ranked player at last year’s Masters Tournament continued his stellar 2022 play to claim his first major title and his first green jacket.

When the two hottest golfers on the planet are paired together in the last group on Sunday at the Masters Tournament, it makes for one cool final round.

That’s just what happened last year at the 86th Masters when Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith of Australia were the last twosome on the course at the year’s first major championship.

Scheffler, the newly minted No. 1 ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking, was only eight weeks removed from his first career PGA Tour victory and had won three of his last five starts. Smith entered the tournament as the reigning champion of The Players Championship and the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

While Scheffler started the fourth round at 9-under-par, three strokes clear of Smith at 6-under, the Australian quickly made things interesting. He countered Scheffler’s pars on Nos. 1 and 2 with two birdies to close the gap to a single shot.

Unflappable, however, Scheffler holed a bump-and-run from below the green for birdie on No. 3 and parred the fourth hole to reach 10-under while Smith bogeyed the third and fourth holes to fall four shots behind at 6-under.

Steady play throughout the round ultimately garnered Scheffler his first major championship and a green jacket as he finished the tournament at 10-under, three shots ahead of runner-up Rory McIlroy. Smith and Shane Lowry finished T-3 at 5-under-par.

The Masters champion felt like it was a pivotal moment in the tournament when he got his third shot on the par-4 No. 3 up and in.

“I was very excited. A bit surprised, too. It was definitely not a shot I expected to see go in, but it definitely changed – I wouldn’t say changed the complexion of the day, but it definitely got things rolling for me,” Scheffler said during the green jacket presentation in Butler Cabin.

As calm, cool and collected as he appeared on the golf course, he admitted, once the green jacket was draped on his shoulders, that he felt anything but composed before he teed off on Sunday.

“I cried like a baby this morning. I was so stressed out. I didn’t know what to do. I was sitting there telling (my wife) Meredith, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready, I don’t feel like I’m ready for this kind of stuff,’ and I just felt overwhelmed,” Scheffler said.

She assured him that God was in control, he continued, “and if today is my time, it’s my time.”

Many Happy Returns

Last year Augusta National Golf Club was ready to welcome a full contingent of patrons to the grounds after having a limited number in attendance the previous two years because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament field, which included 19 first-time players and six amateurs, was made up of 91 invitees from 20 countries. At the beginning of the week, however, speculation abounded about whether or not a certain one of those invitees, who also happened to be a five-time Masters champion, would tee it up.

The anticipation increased when Tiger Woods, who had not played golf competitively since he suffered serious leg injuries in a February 2021 auto accident, was spotted on the course for practice rounds Sunday and Monday. He drew huge crowds as he made his way around the front nine on Monday on a picture-perfect day.

While Woods initially said his tournament status would be a “game-time decision,” he announced at a Tuesday press conference, “As of right now, I feel like I am going to play.”

The weather flipped on Tuesday, causing the suspension of the practice round at 10:55 a.m. because of the threat of lightning and thunderstorms. Based on the forecast, Augusta National announced about two hours later that the grounds would not reopen that day, and heavy rains continued throughout the afternoon.

Scheffler, who was making his third Masters appearance and playing in his first tournament as the No. 1 player in the world, had a sunny outlook about the challenge of playing the golf course.

“I’ve been playing some good golf. Definitely not going to take it for granted and hoping to keep it rolling this week. My game feels like it’s in a pretty good spot. … I’ve had some good experience around here, and I’m looking forward to this week,” he said on Tuesday.

Rainy weather continued to be an issue Wednesday when play was suspended about 11:20 a.m. The course reopened at 12:45 p.m. in time for another happy return to last year’s tournament – the Par 3 Contest, which was being held for the first time since 2019. Play was suspended again at 3:42 p.m., however, and the grounds did not reopen due to inclement weather conditions and safety concerns.

In the weather-shortened contest, Canadians Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champion, and Mackenzie Hughes were named co-winners after they tied with a score of 4-under-par 23. This was the third time in Par 3 history that dual winners were declared due to the suspension of play.

Golfers were glad that the light-hearted tradition, where their children or significant others often serve as caddies, was on the schedule again. Playing in his third Masters but his first Par 3 Contest, Hughes said it was “everything and more” that he hoped it would be.

“It was a special day,” he added. “To have a family day like this before one of the biggest tournaments of the year is pretty cool.”

Jason Kokrak recorded the sole ace of the day on No. 4, which marked the 101st hole-in-one made since the inception of the Par 3 in 1960.

This year the contest will be played on a redesigned course in which Nos. 1 through 5 have been rerouted to allow more golf holes to be adjacent to DeSoto Springs Pond. The pond and dam also were reshaped and restored, and the changes will increase patron viewing options and capacity on the nine-hole, par 27 course.

In his annual Wednesday morning press conference, Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, commented on the lengthening of the 11th and 15th holes before last year’s tournament.

“We look at every hole every year and evaluate course improvements to uphold the integrity of the design philosophies of Bobby Jones and Dr. Alister MacKenzie,” he said. “We believe these enhancements will improve the strategy of these holes, as well as the excitement of the competition and the viewing experience of our patrons.”

In another change since last year’s tournament, the par-5 No. 13 has been lengthened to 545 yards by moving back the Masters tees 35 yards.

Getting in Position

Overnight rainstorms delayed the start of the first round by 30 minutes, but the tournament still got underway Thursday with one of its most enduring traditions – the honorary starters ceremony.

Last year two-time Masters winner Tom Watson made his debut as an honorary starter, joining Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on the first tee. Between the three of them, they have won 11 green jackets.

“I would like to say how honored I am to be with Gary and Jack,” Watson said before he hit his tee shot. “I’ve watched the ceremony many times in the past with Arnie, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, and to be a part of this thing, I’m truly humbled.”

The players enjoyed beautiful weather in the afternoon, but they had to adapt to the wind. At the end of the first round, Sungjae Im shot 67 to sit atop the leaderboard at 5-under-par. He birdied the first three holes as well as Nos. 7 and 15 and eagled No. 13 to offset bogeys at Nos. 10 and 11.

“I drove it well most of the holes, and it gave me opportunities to have better second shots most of the holes,” he said.

Bookending his round with double bogeys on the first and 18th holes, Smith was a stroke behind at 4-under. Shooting 68, he also birdied Nos. 5, 6, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15 and 16.

“The condition of the course was amazing given the amount of rain we’ve had the last couple of days. It was just gusty out there,” Smith said. “The wind was quite tricky.”

Former Masters champions Danny Willett and Dustin Johnson, along with Joaquin Niemann and Scheffler, shot 69 to finish T-3 at 3-under. Scheffler bogeyed No. 18 and birdied the eighth, ninth, 12th and 17th holes.

“I kept the ball in position pretty much most of the day,” Scheffler said. “I got out of position a couple of times, and after that, I got the ball back into play to somewhere where I could make a par. I had some really good par saves on the front nine that kept me going.”

Friday brought 25-mph gusts of wind that lifted swirls of sand from the bunkers throughout the day. Stewart Cink had a hole-in-one on No. 16, and Scheffler, who birdied all four of the par-5 holes, ended the round firmly in control of the tournament.

Shooting 67 with seven birdies and two bogeys, he held a five-shot lead over Im, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama. Scheffler also became one of only six players in Masters history to build a five-shot lead after 36 holes, and four of the previous five went on to win the tournament.

“It’s nice to build up a little bit of a lead. … I’ve put myself in position to play well and to win this golf tournament,” Scheffler said. “Going into tomorrow, I’m just going to approach it like I did today and just be committed to my shots and hope for the best.”

He was one of 52 players to make the cut, which fell at 4-over-par 148. Since 2020, the low 50 and ties have qualified for the final 36 holes of the tournament.

Notable names to miss the cut included the likes of former Masters winners Johnson and Jordan Spieth along with major champions Brookes Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. With his 46-year-old body that has been surgically repaired multiple times over, however, Woods shot 1-over through 36 holes to play on the weekend.

“I got back in the ball game. … Tomorrow is going to be tough. It’s going to be windy. It’s going to be cool,” said Woods, who shot a pair of 78s on the weekend to finish in 47th place.

Riding Momentum

Other than a 30-minute cameo appearance in the morning, the sun sat out the Saturday round. With more blustery winds and temperatures in the 40s and 50s, people broke out sweatshirts and sweaters, beanie caps and mittens inside and outside the ropes.

Scheffler birdied Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 13 and 17 and bogeyed the fourth, 12th, 14th, 15th and 18th holes. After his tee shot on No. 18 landed under a bush on the left, he took a one-shot penalty for an unplayable lie to bogey the hole.

“We saw the guy with the flag that always finds the balls kind of panicking. … Fortunately, they found the ball,” Scheffler said. “And then all I was trying to do was figure out how I was going to get it on the green for my third shot. And fortunately, I was able to take an unplayable out of the bush and still have a swing. I think I could have gone in there and played it if I had to, but getting out of the bush and trying to make my five from there with a drop and guarantee me being out of the bush was huge. I hit a really good shot and had a nice up-and-down.”

Finishing with a 71, he was the only player to have three sub-par rounds through 54 holes.

“You hate bogeying the last hole, but the way I bogeyed it, it for sure felt like a par,” Scheffler said in a Butler Cabin interview. “Definitely a good finish to the day. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Scheffler acknowledged that it’s not easy to sleep at night and play with the lead, but he said he calmed down Sunday once he got on the Augusta National grounds.

“When I got to the golf course, I was pretty much settled in. It’s just the morning that was tough,” he said.

After the third and fourth holes of the final round shifted momentum back in his favor, Scheffler maintained his four-shot lead until the 11th hole when Smith birdied to pull within three strokes.

However, when he hit his tee shot on No. 12 into Rae’s Creek, Smith fell out of contention with a triple-bogey to fall to 4-under. The Australian, who later won the 2022 British Open before defecting from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, ultimately shot 73 to finish at 5-under.

In the meantime, playing five groups ahead of Scheffler and Smith, McIlroy, who carded the only bogey-free round of the tournament on Sunday, was making a run up the leaderboard. Shooting 64, he had six birdies and an eagle in the final round to finish in second place at 7-under.

He also was part of one of the most spectacular moments of the 2022 – or any other – Masters on the 18th green.

Ending the day with a flourish, McIlroy holed out from the rear of the back right bunker to birdie the 18th hole. Not to be outdone, his playing partner, Collin Morikawa, followed with a hole-out from the front of the same bunker for a birdie on No. 18 to shoot 67 and finish in fifth place.

“I played a really, really good round of golf. I knew it would take something incredible to try to at least give Scottie something to think about,” McIlroy said. “I thought I had maybe done that with holing that bunker shot on the last. I got to within three at that point. But then Scottie’s just been sort of unflappable and birdied 14 and 15, and he’s closing this thing out like a champ.”

Scheffler shot another 71 on Sunday to finish the tournament at 10-under. In addition to his birdie on No. 3, he birdied the seventh, 14th and 15th holes and bogeyed No 10. Scheffler said he never broke his concentration until he got to the 72nd hole and double-bogeyed with a four-putt.

“I had a five-shot lead and was like, all right, now I can enjoy this. And you saw the results of that,” he said with a laugh.

Throughout the tournament, Scheffler put his trust in his caddie, Ted Scott, who was on the bag for Bubba Watson for his Masters wins in 2012 and 2014. Scheffler also said he rarely looked at the leaderboards.

“I kept my head down, kept pushing and trying to hit good shots and stay aggressive. … The minute you play overly conservative, bogeys just start racking up,” he said. “You have to play conservatively aggressive and hit good shots. You can’t just limp your way in. I knew that on the back nine, and all I was trying to do was just hit good shots.”

Making History

Despite the finish that a five-shot lead going into the last hole allows, Scheffler made history in all the right ways. He became the fifth top-ranked player in the world to win the Masters, joining Ian Woosnam (1991), Fred Couples (1992), Woods (2001 and 2002) and Johnson (2020). He also was the fourth Masters champion to have won a U.S. Junior Amateur Championship, along with Gay Brewer, Woods and Spieth.

Several times during the week Scheffler was asked to describe himself. He said he’s a private, laid-back guy who leads a normal life, likes to play board games and tries to stay in the moment. Now, however, he also is a Masters champion who has a lifetime invitation to Augusta National every April.

“I dreamed of having a chance to play in this golf tournament. I teared up the first time I got my invitation in the mail. … I love this place. I love this golf course,” he said. “If you’re going to choose a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament I would want to win.”

By Betsy Gilliland

Having a Ball

Masters Guide
2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur

Photos courtesy of Augusta National Golf Club

The 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur competitors – and one bucket hat-wearing teen in particular – made the most of their experience at the tournament.

At the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, held March 30-31 and April 2, Anna Davis of Spring Valley, California, relished her role as an underdog. As a 16-year-old who didn’t yet have her driver’s license, she felt like there were few expectations of her at the tournament. She had no trouble navigating the courses at Champions Retreat Golf Club and Augusta National Golf Club, however, winning the title in her debut at the 54-hole tournament.

Wearing a red shirt, white jacket and her signature bucket hat, Davis shot a final-round 69 at Augusta National to finish at 1-under-par and clip Louisiana State University teammates Latanna Stone and Ingrid Lindblad by a stroke.

“I knew I was kind of an underdog in the field, and I didn’t have as much pressure on me to do extremely well. So I was just out there having fun,” she said in Butler Cabin when she accepted the winner’s trophy from Fred Ridley, chairman of Augusta National and the Masters Tournament.

Pars, Putts & Patience

Round 1 got underway at Champions Retreat in Evans with a field of 72 of the world’s top amateur golfers from 24 countries.

At the end of the day, University of Alabama sophomore Benedetta Moresco and Davis, who each signed for 2-under 70, sat atop the leaderboard.

2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur The trio of University of Michigan junior Hailey Borja, LSU junior Lindblad and China’s 17-year-old Xiaowen Yin were a shot back at 1-under.

Moresco, No. 19 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), got in the mix, after early birdies from a close putt on No. 2 and a 15-footer on No. 3, to make the turn at 2-under-par. The native of Italy went bogey-free on her second nine, stringing together nine consecutive pars to share the lead in her second tournament appearance.

“It was good out there today. I had really good putts from all around the green,” Moresco said. “My key was being patient on the golf course. … The wind came up on the back nine more than the front nine. It was a little bit tougher.”

Playing in the last group of the day, Davis, ranked 99th in the WAGR, made the turn at 1-under-par after a birdie on the seventh hole. She carded another birdie at No. 14 to claim a share of the lead. Although she lost a stroke with her only bogey of the day on the next hole, she bounced back with a birdie on No. 18 after her 30-foot chip hit the flagstick and stopped inches from the hole.

“I saw it going at the pin. I was just hoping it would hit it and go somewhere near the hole,” said Davis, one of the youngest players in the field. “It was actually a little embarrassing because there was somebody next to me who was like, ‘good thing the hole was there.’ I’m like, ‘oh, thanks.’”

Teeing off on No. 10, Lindblad of Sweden held a share of the lead through her first nine, sinking 15- and 23-foot putts for back-to-back birdies on Nos. 14 and 15. She also had two bogeys on Nos. 1 and 4 and a birdie on No. 2.

“I’m a little bit more confident this year than last year,” said Lindblad, who finished T-3 at the 2021 Women’s Amateur. “I hit the ball further, so I actually hit a little shorter clubs in this year. It’s a big difference if you have a pitching wedge instead of an 8-iron into the greens.”

Three players, Arizona State University senior Alexandra Forsterling of Germany, LSU junior Stone and 15-year-old Liqi Zeng of China were tied for sixth place at even par.

Play, Interrupted

Start times for the tournament’s second round, also played at Champions Retreat, were scheduled to begin Thursday at 7:30 a.m., but inclement weather pushed them back by two hours. The delays continued throughout the day, and the second round finally started under sunny skies at 3 p.m.

By the time darkness forced the suspension of the second round at 7:52 p.m., only nine players had completed their rounds. The remaining 21 groups came back to Champions Retreat on Friday to resume play at 7:30 a.m.

When play was suspended, three players were tied for the lead at even par – Beatrice Wallin, a Florida State University senior from Sweden; University of Southern California freshman Amari Avery of the United States; and Borja of the United States.

2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur While Wallin and Avery were at 1-under-par for the second round through the 16th hole, Borja was 1-over-par for the round through the 11th hole.

Four players were a shot behind at 1-over par – Americans Stone and Jensen Castle, a University of Kentucky junior, Moresco and 17-year-old Amalie Leth-Nissen of Denmark.

Davis, one of the nine players to finish the second round on Thursday, shot 76 for a score of 2-over-par for the tournament. She was in a six-way tie for eighth place when the round was halted.

By the completion of the 36 holes on Friday morning, Wallin, who shot 1-under, and Stone, who shot even par, were tied for first place at even-par 144. One of only three players under par in the second round, Wallin, ranked sixth in the WAGR, parred her two remaining holes to shoot a second-round 71.

“I’m going to take it shot-by-shot and just enjoy it because it’s going to be my last time playing Augusta National and playing this event,” she said. “I’m going to go out there with a big smile and see what happens.”

Starting on the 10th hole, Stone saved par after her ball plugged in the bunker on No. 7. She joined Wallin in the lead with a birdie on No. 8. The LSU junior finished both of her rounds at even-par 72 in her debut.

“I’ve just been trying to keep it simple – fairways, greens, two-putt and get off,” Stone said. “I’m not trying to do anything special. I know there’s not a lot of birdies out there, and I’m just trying to stay patient.”

Austrian and UCLA junior Emma Spitz, Avery and Leth-Nissen were a shot back at 1-over-par. First-round co-leaders Davis and Moresco, along with Stanford University senior Aline Krauter of Germany, were T-6 at 2-over-par.

Unfinished Business

Before all 72 competitors could go to Augusta National to play a practice round Friday afternoon, however, a quartet of golfers had to take care of unfinished business. The field for the final round had to be trimmed to 30 people, and a sudden-death playoff ensued for one of the four players, knotted at 6-over-par, to claim the last spot.

The playoff competitors were Forsterling; Americans Auston Kim, a Northwestern University junior, and Amanda Sambach, a University of Virginia freshman; and Germany’s Paula Schulz-Hanssen, who had committed to play at Arizona State.

All four players parred the first playoff hole – the par-4 No. 10. However, a bogey on the par-3 11th hole by Forsterling and Kim’s bogey on the par-3 No. 17 eliminated them from the competition.

After both remaining players laid up on the par-5 18th, Sambach bogeyed and Schulz-Hanssen two-putted for par to advance to the final round.

“I’m so excited, and it’s even my birthday,” said Schulz-Hanssen, who turned 19. “So that’s like a great present for myself. I’m very excited, and I’m very proud.”

In Round 3, Davis played in the third-to-last group of the day. The high school sophomore, who had birdies on Nos. 2 and 9 – plus back-to-back birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 – and a bogey on the third hole, shot the second-lowest score of the day. She also was the only player to finish under par for the tournament.

Stone, playing in the final group, had the tournament in her grasp when she built a two-stroke lead with two holes to play after a birdie on No. 16 put her at 3-under-par. With a double bogey on the 17th hole and a bogey on No. 18, however, she fell a shot behind Davis.

“It’s just heartbreaking, you know? I knew where I stood on 17, and I was just thinking par out,” said Stone. “I just didn’t have the right club and left myself with a difficult up-and-down. I was trying to be aggressive and just kind of lost it, but I thought I could get it back on 18. But I had a lot going on in my head with where I was at.”

Lindblad posted the low score of the day with a 68 in a round that included three birdies and two eagles. A bogey on the last hole also dropped her from 1-under to even par.

After the round, Davis said she was shocked that she had won the tournament. “I’m speechless,” said the teenager, who plays golf left-handed and shares a St. Patrick’s Day birthday with Augusta National co-founder Bobby Jones. “I can’t even fathom what just happened.”

Davis, who often travels solo to golf tournaments, also said she will continue to bring her bucket hats with her. “Every golf course I go to, I try to collect them,” she said. “A few months ago . . . I wore a bucket hat at Valhalla because my dad told me to. … It was very hot, and I was getting very sunburned.”

2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur She said she tries to wear a bucket hat at least once a tournament. (She wore a visor in the rounds at Champions Retreat.)

Underdog to Top Dog

After the first round, Davis had said that, before the Women’s Amateur, it had been a year since she had gone into a golf tournament – her third AJGA event – with no pressure to perform.

“That’s probably the last time I felt like I was an underdog in an event,” she said.

She also won that tournament by a shot, mirroring the results of the Women’s Amateur.

Clearly, Davis wore the role of underdog as well as she rocked her bucket hat. However, with her game, poise and independence, she seemed to have no trouble making the transition from underdog to top dog.

This year she will become the first reigning champion to defend her title, but she’ll have to fend off an international field that includes 2021 champion Tsubasa Kajitani and top-ranked amateur Rose Zhang. However, Davis, who has committed to Auburn University, made it clear a year ago that she has set her sights on other goals as well.

“I want to be the best player in the world,” she said.

By Betsy Gilliland

Clutch Performances

Masters Guide
2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals

Photos courtesy of Augusta National Golf Club

The eight winners in the 2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals showed their mettle by coming through when it counted.

For the 2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals, 40 boys and 40 girls came from across the United States to participate, and, after a hiatus in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, patrons were back to watch the junior golfers perform as well.

While some division winners prevailed after a close contest, one was victorious in a record-breaking rout. However, all of finalists came ready to compete. The field, which included three hometown heroes – Evans residents Hamilton Coleman and Zane Madison as well as Fort Gordon’s Lyla Hawker –  illustrated once again that the future of golf is in good hands.

The winners in the Boys’ divisions were Hudson Knapp of Marietta, Georgia (ages 7-9), Bentley Coon of Horton, Michigan (ages 10-11), Michael Jorski of Clarendon Hills, Illinois (ages 12-13) and Jaden Dumdumaya of Fairfield, California (ages 14-15).

In the Girls’ divisions, the winners were Autumn Solesbee of Huntersville, North Carolina (ages 7-9), Kylie Chung of Cumming, Georgia (ages 10-11), Jenna Kim of Raleigh, North Carolina (ages 12-13) and Mia Hammond of New Albany, Ohio (ages 14-15).

2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals‘Time of My Life’

A single point separated Knapp from the runner-up in the Boys’ 7-9 division, and, after finishing second in putting, he credited the flatstick with bringing him the top prize. However, he was surprised by the outcome.

When he first saw the golf course, Knapp said, “I was like, ‘I’m not going to get first place.’”

Finishing in seventh position overall, Madison made his best showing in the driving portion of this division by claiming second place. The lefty said “hitting my driver a long way and playing with friends” are the things he likes most about golf.

Coon, who won the driving portion and finished second in chipping, took the Boys’ 10-11 competition by a mere half-point. However, winning his division was just one of several unforgettable moments he experienced last year. He got to say “hi” to 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson, and he was in awe of the drive down Magnolia Lane.

“It gives you one of those feelings where you want to go out and just hit ’em straight, chip ’em really close and putt ’em in – or make the putts, whatever you want to call it,” he said.

To take the overall trophy in the Boys’ 12-13 division, Jorski putted like a seasoned veteran on the 18th green. He made his 30-footer and knocked his 15-foot putt 8 inches from the hole to finish in a tie with Jacob Thompson of Louisville, Kentucky. After the two competitors decided the winner in their age group in a “putt-off,” Jorski also proved something to himself.

2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals“I can deal with pressure well, and I can rise up to the occasion,” he said. “It’s impossible to really deal with the nerves and take them away, so, I mean, it proves to me that I can play when I’m nervous, too.”

Although Coleman, an eighth grader at Evans Middle School last year, finished in fourth place in the Boys’ 12-13 division, he won the driving portion of the competition. He appreciated the support from the patrons as well.

“I obviously didn’t win (overall), but I had the best time of my life,” he said. “When they called my name and everybody started cheering, it just felt great. … It was super loud. It made me feel a lot better, and I calmed down a little bit.”

In the Boys’ 14-15 division, Dumdumaya’s 10-point margin of victory was the largest spread in Drive, Chip and Putt history. Dumdumaya, who won the driving and putting events and finished second in chipping, said putting is the strongest part of his game. He almost made his 30-foot putt, and he sank his 15-footer.

“I told myself that the putt at the end is to win the Masters, so I kind of imagined just throwing up a Tiger fist pump and all that,” he said. “I was more worried about the celebration because I really wanted it to be something that I remember for the rest of my life. It was a good way to end it.”

2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals‘Good at Golf’

In winning the Girls’ 7-9 division, Solesbee finished first in the chipping portion of the contest and second in putting. She said she is a good chipper because “I have a smooth stroke, and I am really good at making the bounce – and distance.”

During the competition, she calmed herself with words from her father. “My dad always says, ‘being nervous is a superpower because it shows that you care,’” she said.

She even got a hug from two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson after she won. “That’s my favorite golfer, and do you know why? Because he adopted his kids, and I’m adopted,” she said.

Although it wasn’t Hawker’s day at the Drive, Chip and Putt finals, she can claim an impressive golf feat that few can match. She made a hole-in-one on her first-ever swing in her first-ever golf class.

In the Girls’ 10-11 division, only 3 1/2 points separated first place from last place in the final standings. When Chung arrived at the 18th green, she knew she had to putt well to have a chance to win. She did just that – finishing first in putting to take the overall title in her age group by a half-point.

As if her victory didn’t say enough, she also wanted to send another message to some of her schoolmates when she got home. “I’m going to tell those boys I’m good at golf,” she said.

2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National FinalsA solid performance by Kim, who finished second in driving and chipping and third in putting, helped her take the top spot in the Girls’ 12-13 division.

“I’ve been working to get here for a long time and didn’t think I would actually win it,” said Kim, who called chipping the strongest part of her game. “So, when I did win it, I didn’t expect it.”

The last division competition of the day came to a dramatic conclusion when a pair of players – Hammond and Ella Walsh of Tucson, Arizona – made both of their putts on the 18th green. To settle the winner of the putting event, the two girls went to a one-putt playoff. With Hammond’s playoff victory, she also claimed the overall title in Girls’ 14-15 competition.

“I was just really confident with the putter. I knew if I kept my mindset good, I could make both putts,” said Hammond, who finished second in driving and in chipping. “I had a lot of confidence walking up onto the green.”

2022 Drive, Chip and Putt National FinalsThis year’s Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals will be held on Sunday, April 2. Registration for the 2024 championship is underway at, and local qualifiers begin April 30 at more than 340 sites nationwide and will continue throughout the summer.

By Betsy Gilliland

2023 Masters Predictions

Masters Guide
Local golf pros share their picks for Masters

Photos courtesy of Augusta National Golf Club

Local golf pros share their picks for Masters glory – or heartache.

Every year Masters Week begins with an abundance of storylines, and it’s always fun to see how events play out.

Perhaps Jordan Spieth can win on Easter Sunday for the third year a row. Maybe this is the time for last year’s runnerup, Rory McIlroy, to slip his arms into a green jacket and complete the career grand slam. Or top golfer Jon Rahm could ride his hot streak into Masters history with a victory.

As for our prognosticators, we’ll see if Ira Miller, the Augusta Municipal Golf Course general manager and a newcomer to our poll last year, can repeat his performance. He correctly picked Scottie Scheffler to win the 2022 Masters Tournament, declaring, “He’s the man.”

Who will be the man this year? Our favorite golf experts have made their predictions for the 2023 Masters.

By Todd Beck

Local golf pros share their picks for MastersIra Miller
General Manager, Augusta Municipal Golf Course
(Ira’s correct 2022 predictions: Masters Champion, Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut, Highest 18-Hole Score)
2023 Masters Champion: I’ll say Jon Rahm. He’s hot right now.

Dark Horse: Max Homa. Both guys are hot. They’re playing good golf.

Low Newcomer: I’m going to go with Tom Kim. He did well on the Hawaiian swing.

Low Senior: I’m going to say Bernhard Langer.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Sam Burns

Toughest Hole: No. 17

Pivotal Hole: I’m going to go with No. 15.

Highest 18-Hole Score: 84

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

Tommy Brannen
Head Golf Professional, Augusta Country Club
(Tommy’s correct 2022 predictions: Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut, Toughest Hole)
2023 Masters Champion: Who would I like to see win, or who is going to win? I’d like to see Justin Thomas win. I’m going to pick him. No, I’m going to pick Jon Rahm to win.

Dark Horse: JT is my dark horse.

Low Newcomer: Tom Kim. He’s a good little player.

Local golf pros share their picks for MastersLow Senior: It’s probably between Freddie or Bernhard. I guess Phil is playing. I would say Phil Mickelson.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Sam Burns

Toughest Hole: Let’s stay with No. 11.

Pivotal Hole: I think it’s going to be 13.

Highest 18-Hole Score: 86

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

Dan Elliott
PGA General Manager/Director of Golf, Forest Hills Golf Club
(Dan’s correct 2022 predictions: Low Newcomer, Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut, Toughest
Hole, Highest Score on One Hole)
2023 Masters Champion: Jon Rahm. He’s playing so well. He’s hot.

Dark Horse: Justin Rose. He’s playing well, and he plays well there.

Low Newcomer: That’s a tough one. It’ll probably be between Sahith Theegala and Tom Kim. I’m going to go with Theegala.

Low Senior: Bernhard Langer

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Sam Burns

Toughest Hole: That’s going to be hard. They’ve made some changes. No. 11.

Pivotal Hole: No. 13

Highest 18-Hole Score: 81

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

Spike Kelley
General Manager and Golf Professional, Goshen Plantation
(Spike’s correct 2022 predictions: Toughest Hole, Highest Score on One Hole)
2023 Masters Champion: Rory McIlroy. He hasn’t won yet, and I pick him every year.

Dark Horse: Max Homa. He’s been playing really well. He’s a good player.

Low Newcomer: Tom Kim

Low Senior: Vijay Singh

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Sam Burns

Toughest Hole: I’m going to say No. 11.

Pivotal Hole: No. 12

Highest 18-Hole Score: 84

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

Tyler Powers
Golf Shop Manager, Hickory Knob State Park Golf Course
(This is Tyler’s first year participating in our poll)
2023 Masters Champion: I think Jon Rahm’s looking really good.

Dark Horse: I’ve always wanted Rory McIlroy to win it.

Low Newcomer: Let’s go with Tom Kim.

Low Senior: I really want Freddie Couples to do it. I like Freddie. Personal bias.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: How about Viktor Hovland. Maybe. Who knows?

Toughest Hole: It’s going to be in Amen Corner. No. 13.

Pivotal Hole: No. 16

Highest 18-Hole Score: 86

Highest Score on One Hole: 8

Local golf pros share their picks for MastersChris Verdery
Director of Golf, The River Golf Club
(Chris needs a mulligan on his 2022 predictions.)
2023 Masters Champion: Jon Rahm. He’s on top of his game.

Dark Horse: Sungjae Im

Low Newcomer: I’ll go with Sahith Theegala.

Low Senior: I guess I’ll say Phil Mickelson.

Highest-Ranked Player to Miss the Cut: Let’s say Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Toughest Hole: I’m going to say No. 11.

Pivotal Hole: No. 15

Highest 18-Hole Score: 83

Highest Score on One Hole: 9

Course Quiz

Masters Guide

Masters Tournament patrons have a real appreciation for Augusta National Golf Club, and we enjoy quizzing a few each year to hear their thoughts about some of their favorite things on and off the golf course. See if they match your own:

I think pimento cheese is _____.

I’m amazed by _____  at Augusta National.

No. 12 or No. 16?

Three golfers I’d like to be in a group chat with:

Masters Course Quiz

Dance to the Movies


dance augustaAugusta Symphony will present Dance to the Movies on Thursday, March 2 with performers from “Dancing With The Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance.”

The dancers will recreate memorable moments from movies like Grease, Singin’ In The Rain and Moulin Rouge as the symphony performs the music.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at Miller Theater, and tickets are $39 – $91. For more information, visit

That’s No Blarney


BLARNEYShow off your shamrock trivia skills with these 7 lesser-known St. Paddy’s Day fun facts:

  1. The color of St. Patrick’s Day originally was blue.

2. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in America — not Ireland — in 1601 on the site of present-day St. Augustine, Florida.

3. The world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade is in Hot Springs, Arkansas, with a route of a mere 98 feet. Participants have included Irish Elvises and the San Diego Chicken.

4. Up until the 1970s, pubs in Ireland were closed on St. Patrick’s Day except for one place – a national dog show that was held on March 17 every year.

5. Green beer is synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day, but the invention is purely American.

6. Patrick wasn’t Irish — he was born to Roman parents in Britain. He died on March 17 in 461, but no one is sure where he is buried.

7. The odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. But if you find one on St. Patrick’s Day, it doubles your luck.

3 Feet High and Rising — De La Soul

Listen To This

HIP HOP MUSICIn 1989 the world of hip-hop was introduced to three innovative poets: Posdnuos, P.A. Mase and the late Trugoy the Dove. Collectively known as De La Soul, this trio of rhyme cultivators and loop crafters invented a style that changed the hip-hop landscape and brought a fresh perspective to rap music with new depth, range and creative way of speak.

Nearly 34 years have passed since the release of De La’s debut masterpiece, 3 Feet High and Rising, a 24-tracked sing-along storybook hailed as a hip-hop milestone that bridged the genre gap and welcomed an increasing mass of crossover fans.

After the rise of digital and streaming music outlets, De La was plagued with record label woes and a long-running fight to release their music due to sampling rights.

Yet, after nearly a generation of trudging and budging, the day has come where 3 Feet High and Rising is hitting the stream and re-introducing the De La genius to new audiences and those who have been wishing upon a star to regain access to the wonderful world of the Soul.

The album is packed with gems like “Pot Holes In My Lawn” and “Me, Myself, and I” that put the good mood in the groove.

As we head into this season of daisies and love, may De La Soul be a “spring” board into a new age of warmer days.

– Chris Rucker

New Cyber Masters


Augusta University is partnering with the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence to create a Master of Science in Information Security Management program and a Master of Arts in Intelligence and Security Studies to allow soldiers to further their educations at their own pace, wherever they may be located.

The launch marks the university’s first fully online graduate degree program offered through Augusta University Online.

The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley

Literary Loop

The Mostly True Story of Tanner & LouiseTwenty-one-year-old Tanner Quimby needs a place to live. Preferably one where she can continue sitting around in sweatpants and playing video games 19 hours a day. When an opportunity to work as a live-in caregiver for an elderly woman falls into her lap, she takes it.

One slip on the rug. That’s all it took for Louise Wilt’s daughter to demand that Louise have a full-time nanny living with her.

Never mind that she can still walk fine, finish her daily crossword puzzle and pour the two fingers of vodka she drinks every afternoon. Bottom line: Louise wants a caretaker even less than Tanner wants to be one.

The two start off their living arrangement happily ignoring each other until Tanner starts to notice weird things. Like, why does Louise keep her garden shed locked up tighter than a prison? Why is the local news fixated on the suspect of one of the biggest jewelry heists in American history who looks eerily like Louise? And why does Louise suddenly appear in her room, with a packed bag at 1 a.m. insisting they leave town immediately? 

“Colleen Oakley draws on Thelma and Louise for this delightful story of an elderly woman and her caregiver who go on the run… The antics of this unlikely duo makes for an entertaining buddy drama,” says Publishers Weekly.

“One of 2023’s Most Anticipated Releases,” says Southern Living.

Bee-ing Innovative


Photos courtesy of UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences photo

The University of Georgia creates a buzz by developing the world’s first vaccine for honeybees.

Most people regard insects as a nuisance to be swatted away. Not honeybees, however.

These pollinators are instrumental in the global production of foods that rely on insects for pollination, and, with the development of the first vaccine for the world’s honeybees, beekeepers now can protect their colonies.

The vaccine resulted from a collaboration between the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Dalan Animal Health, a biotech company based at UGA’s Innovation Hub in Athens. According to Environment News Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved the vaccine for two years on a conditional basis.

The vaccine is intended to help honeybees resist American foulbrood, a destructive disease that can wipe out entire bee colonies.

“You don’t have to look far to know honeybees are having a lot of problems right now. Hives will die unless you intercede with herculean efforts,” says Keith Delaplane, professor in the CAES Department of Entomology and director of the UGA Bee Program.

“Queen Candy”

While traditional vaccines are injected with a syringe, the honeybee vaccine is mixed into the queen feed that is consumed by worker bees and then fed to the queen.

After she ingests it, the inoculated queen, for the remainder of her lifetime, will produce worker bees that are primed to be immune to foulbrood as they hatch.

“This work is so new,” says Annette Kleiser, co-founder and CEO of Dalan. “There are no guidelines, no handbook. We are developing, together with Keith, what will be the gold standard for these trials. It’s really exciting; it is the first of its kind.”

Pollinators such as bees are responsible for one of every three bites of food humans eat, according to the USDA, and U.S. crops that depend on honeybee pollination are valued at more than $15 billion.

However, pollinator numbers have been declining for years. According to a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership, U.S. beekeepers lost 39 percent of their honeybees from April 2021 through April 2022.

“People don’t understand how hard it is to keep bees alive,” says Delaplane. “I can’t imagine a more frightening branch of agriculture to be in. It takes ceaseless attention.”

The animal vaccine can be used in organic agriculture, and it will be available on a limited basis to commercial beekeepers this year.

Who You Gonna Call?

If a swarm of honeybees takes up residence in your house, it’s now safer to tell them to buzz off. A new Honeybee Control and Removal state certification program requires pest control companies and operators who provide the service in Georgia to be certified and licensed.

The new law prohibits the use of pesticides in honeybee removal, so it’s better for your home and the bees.

Food Truck Friday


Bring your taste buds, chairs or blankets and appetite for fun — Food Truck Friday is back.

The popular event kicks off again on March 10 and will be held one to two times a month through September 22.

This year the event will alternate between three locations:  Gateway Park in Grovetown, Evans Towne Center Park and Eubanks Blanchard Park in Appling.

Gateway Park will be the site for March 10, and Evans Towne Center Park will be the location for March 24. Admission is free, and the event runs from 6-9 p.m.

Eye-Catching Craftsmanship

Ka-eye-yak Augusta kayaks

Photography by Sally Kolar and Herb Fechter

From kayaks to fly fishing rods, an Evans father and son create functional wood works of art.

About 10 years ago, Evans resident Bradley Bertram, aka one of the Eye Guys, was looking for something to do to fill the cold-weather months. Or, perhaps more specifically, his wife, Paige, was looking for something for him to do, so for Christmas she gave him the plans and materials to build a wooden kayak.

“Shortly after that, she described herself as a ‘kayak widow,’” Bradley says.

Especially since the 14-month project ended up spanning two winters. However, it wasn’t a solitary endeavor. Bradley’s then-adolescent son, Collin, who is now a 22-year-old college senior, got involved as well. He had built a couple of small model boats, but he was ready for a bigger, better challenge.

“I got interested in it right away. I like building things, boats, boating and fishing,” says Collin. “We jumped from building small model boats a foot long to building actual boats. I’m always in the garage helping with something, so it morphed into that.”

Kayaks Bradley Bertram, the Eye GuysThe Eyes Have It

The first kayak they built was an 80-pound tandem. However, during covid in 2020 and 2021, when many of us were binge-watching TV shows, they decided to build a 40-pound, one-person kayak. The newest vessel sports a pair of eyes on its deck, so naturally, Bradley dubbed it their “KeyeYAK.”

“I’m the king of dad humor,” he says. “My specialty is corneal surgery, so I’m the king of ‘corn’-ea.”

The Bertrams built the single KeyeYAK in six months. “It was easier to make than the first one, but adding the eyes made it harder,” says Bradley. “We turned a hatch into an eye, and every part of the eye is a different wood with a different color.”

The pupil is walnut; the iris is western red cedar; the sclera is Alaskan yellow cedar.

“Each kayak has a set of plans, but you can do what you want with them,” Bradley says.

In fact, their next kayak will be a racing-style model with an inlaid blue heron on the deck.

To construct the kayaks, the Bertrams use the stitch-and-glue method to stitch pre-cut plywood panels together with wire and then glue the seams with a mix of epoxy resin and wood flour. Once the kayak is assembled, they trim the exposed wire. Then, to waterproof and strengthen the wood, they cover it in protective layers of fiberglass.

“Most of the weight is in the epoxy,” says Bradley. “We put five pounds of epoxy in each end of the kayak. If we run into something, it’s protected.”

Collin Bertram KeyeYAK Eye GuysThe hull is made of 8-inch mahogany plywood, and the deck consists of cedar and walnut strips.

“We’ll do 30 to 60 minutes of work, and then we have to wait while it dries,” Bradley says. “There’s a lot of ‘hurry up and wait.’”

Father and son also have developed an effective division of labor for their projects.

“Collin gets the jobs where a limber person is needed,” says Bradley. “He crawls in the hull to put in the filler and epoxy.”

He also is in charge of sanding the wood, a practice that dates back to his youth when he enjoyed dressing the part in surgical gown, goggles and ear protectors.

“At that age, using a power tool for hours is the best thing in the world,” Collin says. “Not so much now, though. It’s the most tedious part of the project.”

The younger Bertram doesn’t seem to mind, though. “We work well as a team,” he says. “We coordinate with each other all the time. My dad will work on the kayaks when I’m at school, and I work on them when he’s at work.”

Bradley says a lot of planning – and psychology – are involved in the construction process.

Bertram built KeyeYAK“Psychology comes into play in boat building. You get very obsessive-compulsive about it,” he says. “You question if it’s good enough, or if you should start over. We learned not to set a deadline because then it becomes work, and that takes the fun out of it.”

‘Good for the Soul’

Woodworking is as soothing as paddling on open water for the Bertrams, and Collin loves the creativity as well.

“You start with a tree, and you can manipulate it yourself into almost anything,” he says.

Bradley appreciates the yin and yang of their avocation.

“Part of it is very mindful. You really have to plan and think about what you’re doing so you don’t mess it up,” he says. “Then there’s part of it, like sanding, that’s mindless. Mindless work is good for the soul.”

While they love to take their kayaks out on the water, they’re always concerned that they might damage them by inadvertently paddling over a rock.

“In fact, both hulls have been repaired from doing just that,” says Bradley.

The risk to their handiwork doesn’t deter them from paddling, however.

“If you go through everything it takes to build it, you’re going to use it,” Collin says. “Open water is better for a wood kayak. You don’t want to take it around rocks or on rapids. If you scratch the hull or the top, it takes three days of work to bring it back to what it was.”

Besides beauty and durability, the Bertrams say wood kayaks have other benefits as well.

For instance, Bradley says, “The small one is lighter than a fiberglass counterpart.”

“You can cut through the water fast in a wood kayak. A lot of plastic kayaks have a fin or a rudder,” Collin says. “You don’t have to worry about a wood kayak going one direction or the other. It’s going to go straight.”

Bertram built KeyeYAK‘Then You Go Fishing’

The Bertrams have made other items, including custom fly fishing rods that they crafted three summers ago at a class they took together at Oyster Bamboo in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

While Bradley built a rod with a tortoiseshell finish and rattan grip, Collin crafted a solid wood rod with a cork grip.

“There’s constant anxiety that you’re going to do something wrong,” Bradley says. “You either love it or hate it.”

“If you’re off by one one-thousandth of an inch, it will take you another day to redo it,” adds Collin.

They worked on their rods all day from Monday through Saturday, and for the record, they didn’t mess up. “And then you go fishing on Sunday,” says Bradley.

Collin caught a 22-inch rainbow trout with his brand new rod. “You could still smell the varnish on the rod,” his father says.

They also have made cutting boards for gifts, but they don’t sell their work. They built a river table headboard for Collin’s bed out of maple wood, and currently, they’re working on a maple river table for the screened porch at their house.

“When I’m building something, it’s out of need. I want something functional,” says Collin.

Family Legacy

Bradley also likes the idea of creating family heirlooms to pass down to his children. In fact, when Collin’s twin sister, Carter, left home for college, she refinished her grandfather’s desk and took it to school with her.

“My dad built the desk in a woodshop class when he was in high school in 1930,” says Bradley.

The kayaks are destined to become part of the Bertram legacy as well.

“I’ve instructed that they are to never leave the family,” Bradley says.

By Betsy Gilliland

Peaceful, Easy Feeling

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

Tranquility and lots of space make a Bartram Trail home the perfect retreat for this Evans family.

For Wendy and Aaron Leggett, their house in Bartram Trail, where they live with sons Jackson and Bryson, offers the best of all worlds.

They have the neighborhood setting that Aaron always wanted, but the wooded area behind their Evans home offers a feeling of seclusion as well.

“We like the peace and quiet,” says Wendy. “We like having plenty of space between the houses.”

Natural Light

The Leggetts, who moved into their home in February 2022, always knew they wanted to build a house. It was just a matter of finding the right design.

“On weekends, we would go look at houses,” says Wendy. “We stumbled across a house in another neighborhood that had this floor plan. This was the one floor plan we saw that we agreed on everything.”

However, the couple made some changes to the design to incorporate their wish list into the home. For instance, they extended the second-story loft to the front of the house. They also removed the dormers from the second story and added cedar columns on the front porch.

“Everybody tells me that the cedar columns make the house stand out,” Wendy says. “The hardest decision we had to make about the house was what color to stain the cedar columns.”

The country-style farmhouse features five-panel doors with black matte hardware throughout the house, and the first story includes white oak hardwood flooring.

“I like the look of hardwood. I like the sound of it under your feet,” says Wendy.

All of the windows and doorways in the house are topped with heavy trim work as well. The windows along the back of the house also offer a view of the woods.

“We never close the blinds. We like natural light,” Wendy says.

The living room features a two-story ceiling with windows up high on the wall, a windmill ceiling fan and built-ins on each side of the fireplace. The family likes to play board games together – “Beat the Parents” trivia game is a favorite – and they conveniently stash them away in the built-in cabinets.

However, this sports-loving family (think baseball, football and professional wrestling) also keeps a giant tic-tac-toe board, which has brown footballs and red pieces in the shape of the state of Georgia as the Xs and Os, on display on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.

Shiplap behind the gas brick fireplace stretches to the ceiling, and faux greenery extends across the mantel. The gray walls offer a contrast to the white built-ins.

A piece of word art featuring Wendy’s motto – and a good-natured warning to others – sits on a shelf. The block of wood says, “Please stop petting my peeves.” Apparently, Aaron knows his wife well. He gave the word art piece to her for Mother’s Day one year.

The adjoining kitchen features quartz countertops, lots of drawers, double ovens, a farmhouse sink in the island, two pendant lights with Edison light bulbs above the island and white grout between the 4-inch-by-12-inch subway tiles on the backsplash.

In addition, the kitchen includes a gas stovetop with a griddle instead of a range and a pullout spice rack by the stovetop.

The view is so nice that Wendy doesn’t even mind spending time there. “It’s so pretty looking out the windows when I’m standing at the sink,” she says. “It makes me feel like I’m in the mountains or the foothills.”

Outlets in the walk-in pantry in the hallway let the Leggetts store appliances in the space.

While the casual dining area features a round oak table, the formal dining room includes a farmhouse table where a bench on one side provides ample seating. The dining room has a trey ceiling, wainscoting, high chair rail and linear chandelier as well.

A walk-in area to the master bedroom and a second-story guest room offers added privacy so that the doors don’t open directly into the hallway. Like the dining room, the master bedroom also includes a trey ceiling.

The adjoining master bath features a built-in tub surrounded by white subway tile and gray grout, an all-glass walk-in shower, porcelain tile flooring, two vanities and quartz countertops. Open light bulbs make the room brighter, and the bath leads to a master closet with built-ins.

In addition, the master closet connects to the laundry room, which has tile flooring.

The boys’ bedrooms upstairs are connected by a Jack and Jill bath, and all three of the upstairs bedrooms feature a cathedral ceiling.

By extending the space to the front of the house, the Leggetts also gave themselves room to add a reading nook to the upstairs loft. A wall sconce is posted on each side of the window that offers plenty of natural light for reading.

Coming to Life

When the house was under construction, Wendy visited the lot daily. While construction initially seemed slow, the house really began to take shape for her when the final details such as lights and appliances were installed.

“We saw the house come to life. In the last couple of weeks, so much happened,” says Wendy. “Everything just fell into place. I liked the excitement of seeing the progress every day.”

The Leggetts enjoy sitting in the black rocking chairs on the front porch of the house, which features a hardy board exterior with brick accents. The front porch, which includes a stamped concrete floor and a knotty pine tongue-and-groove ceiling with a natural stain, is slightly sloped so water runs off of the house.

“We put an iron railing on the front porch, and it really sets off the house,” says Wendy.

A stamped concrete floor and knotty pine tongue-and-groove ceiling with a natural stain are repeated on the covered back porch. This space also features a ceiling fan, a TV and wicker furniture with navy cushions for maximum R & R.

On the couch, a lumbar throw pillow with buttons says, “welcome to the porch.” The doormat, which sits on top of a navy and white striped rug, reads, “Our Nest.”

“One of the things we really love about living here is that deer come all the way up to the house in the evenings. We also love to watch lightning bugs at night,” says Wendy.

No wonder the back porch is her favorite spot in the house.

“It’s so peaceful and quiet,” she says. “We can sit there and relax.”

Aaron has a simple explanation for his favorite place to spend time, which can change from one moment to the next. It’s “the quiet spot, whatever that is.”

They planted azaleas – a must for anyone who lives in this area – in the yard, Wendy says – and her uncle built the raised planters that are filled with petunias and other flowers on the patio.

With all the TLC they have put into their home, the Leggetts plan to stay just where they are for the foreseeable future. “I want my boys to grow up in the same house and make memories here,” says Wendy.

However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be open to making changes in the coming years.

“HGTV is our favorite channel. We like watching home renovations and builds,” Wendy says. “It’s always a work in progress. That’s the fun thing about having a house.”

By Sarah James

Photography by Sally Kolar