For the people on The Hill, Tbo's Traditional Brunch was always
a tougher ticket than the Masters. In the days when the ladies
from the Junior League were practically giving away tournament
badges down on Broad Street, what old Augusta coveted was an
invitation to the annual April masterpiece of J. Robert Teabeaut
II, M.D. But even later, when Masters tickets got as hard to
find as good help, Tbo's party was still the thing.
Consider. After four or five nights of drinking and not much in
the way of solid food, devotees of the game were in sore need of
a stick-to-the-ribs kind of meal--along with a couple of
pick-me-ups to fuel the final hours of Masters week. A
specialist in forensic pathology, the doctor understood this.
"In those days, if you didn't go to seven parties every night,
you hadn't been out," says Tbo. "You can imagine. By Sunday
By Sunday morning old Augusta needed a doctor. So every
December, for more than 20 years, he would have 350 pounds of
prime, boneless beef hung for aging. He would get his chairs
reupholstered and send the drapes out for cleaning. He would
call down to Smoak's on Walton Way and order enough tomato aspic
and cauliflower with cream sauce to feed, well, who knows?
Tbo could invite 50 or 80 local friends to the Traditional
Brunch, but everybody had seven or eight houseguests, and before
he knew it, there were 500 people out there in his garden up on
The Hill, drinking Irish coffee and brandy milk punch and
bourbon on the rocks, popping champagne corks over the house in
the direction of Summerville Cemetery and telling Mr. Robert
Johnson and his crew exactly how they wanted their steaks cooked.
April 21, 1996
Those weren't the only attractions. If the winter had been mild
and Tbo's bulbs threatened to bloom early, he would pack them in
ice so that everything would burst into full splendor on the
crucial Sunday. When his guests started arriving at 10 a.m.,
straight from church, the garden was always a blaze of color. He
might also freeze spring flowers into huge blocks of ice. Or
furnish the grounds with bunnies and chicks for Easter. One year
his old friend Martha Boardman Fleming surprised Tbo with a
bagpiper. Another time he asked one of his students from the
Medical College of Georgia to show up in a Playboy bunny
costume. And no one who is anyone on The Hill, in the fine old
neighborhood called Summerville, will forget the Sunday morning
when the Doctor's housekeeper, Mattie Devoe, burst from a huge
papier-mache Easter egg, shimmying and shaking in her maid's
uniform. In old Augusta that was the kind of touch people
appreciated. It was the perfect send-off for Masters celebrants
en route to stand Sunday vigil at Amen Corner or on the cool
veranda of the Augusta National clubhouse. Mattie, dancing out
of an egg.
This was also the party where outsiders could always get
tournament badges. Even after Arnie and television and
burgeoning throngs of middle-class golfers had turned Augusta's
simple old game into something else--into something they thought
they understood up in New York or out in California--after Ben
Hogan and Sam Snead and lesser mortals had stopped parading
through downtown in white Cadillac convertibles provided by the
Johnson Motor Company and a Masters badge had become a status
symbol, you could still get one in Tbo's garden, sometimes just
minutes before the leaders teed off in the final round. Way
back, the doctor pitched in by buying eight badges, but even
when the National cut him back to two, he more often than not
gave those away.
Call it Southern hospitality. The people who lived in the
willow-shaded mansions of Summerville had been going to the
Masters since Rae's Creek doubled as a kids' swimming hole. When
cows from the adjacent dairy used to wander onto the fairways.
When the caddie master at the neighboring Augusta Country Club
used to lock his charges in a pen and keep order with a bullwhip
and pistol. They remembered how Eisenhower campaigned to have
that big pine on number 17 at the National chopped down because
he was always knocking his drives into it--and how Clifford
Roberts, chairman of the Masters, turned down the President of
the United States. They even remembered when a visitor to town
could deliver a country ham to anybody who lived along
Washington Road and get Masters tickets in return, along with a
The people up on The Hill had seen it all. So they were usually
happy to pass their tournament badges on to eager first-timers
and assorted houseguests. Even Yankees. Not that the tickets
weren't precious. "The Augusta National people watch the local
obituary column religiously," Teabeaut says. "If somebody dies
two days before the tournament, their tickets are gone. You lose
friends in a hurry around here when you die."
On the other hand, a lot of people in old Augusta don't even
bother with the scene at the National on Sunday. In Tbo's prime,
if Augustans hadn't already rented their houses for the week,
for $2,000 or $5,000 or more, and gotten out of town, many of
them were likely to remain in his garden for the afternoon,
availing themselves of his hospitality and wit, maybe even
watching the last few holes on TV. Over the years there were no
fights that he can think of. And if someone occasionally
blundered into a serving table or took a three-hour nap in his
azalea bushes, so be it. Tbo always threw a splendid,
life-giving brunch, and the champagne flowed, but he never hired
In Squeaky's Tip Top, Sonny Hill is explaining golf and the hold
that Augusta National exerts on the local psyche. "Now to tell
you quite honestly, I am more of a fisherman than a player," he
says between gulps of beer. As if to underscore the point, Sonny
is wearing a blue baseball cap with a plastic catfish stuck
through its crown--bewhiskered snout in front, tail fanning out
"They take that whole entire thing out there and pave it over
with cement, ain't 29 people in this town gonna miss church come
Sunday," says Hill. "The people of Augusta built this thing up
from nothing, and I'll tell you quite honestly, folks out there
at the National don't give diddly back. You could used to go out
to the practice rounds; now you're lucky to see the thing on TV.
And the rich people. National says jump, they jump. National
tells 'em to behave, they behave. They turn into a whupped dog."
Truth be told, the Masters puts millions into the local economy,
though the club makes it a policy to never say how or how much.
The money is needed because the town of Augusta has taken some
whuppin' itself in recent years. Despite the picture of
full-flowered glory and fine manners that golf fans see on
television every Masters week, the city that lies beyond the
high gate of Augusta National has some problems. The prosperity
of the ballet, the opera, the symphony and the new museums and
the development of River Walk are all good news. But those
elegant French boutiques in downtown's failed Port Royal retail
development closed their doors inside of three years. There have
been layoffs at Savannah River Site, the nuclear plant across
the river in South Carolina that is one of Augusta's largest
employers. Some people wanted to call the newly refurbished home
of the GreenJackets, Augusta's Class A baseball team, Ty Cobb
Stadium in honor of the Hall of Famer who lived there for many
years. But the book and movie depicting Cobb as a nasty bigot
killed that: The GreenJackets play in Lake Olmstead Stadium.
Then the Atlanta City Council came out against Olympic golf at
Augusta National, citing the club's long history of
discrimination against women and minorities.
As if all that weren't enough, the city staggered through a
major fiscal crisis last spring. Was $5 million mismanaged?
Seven million? No one could tell, and no one could explain. Not
Mayor Charles DeVaney, who along with several city council
members chose not to run for reelection. Not the people around
him. Certainly not Augusta's 45,000 citizens, who found some
municipal services threatened for a spell.
Beyond the beauties of Magnolia Lane, other imagery can startle
the stranger to Augusta. Visit the swooping chamber of commerce
building downtown and you can't help noticing its neighbors--the
Marine Room ("Girls! Girls! Girls!") and Baby Dolls, where the
current attractions include Miss Dallas and Miss Michelle,
artists all but unknown in Dr. Teabeaut's distant garden. As in
many American cities, retailers have fled to the suburban malls,
and the last of the downtown movie palaces, The Miller, shut
down a few years back. The only token of immortality remaining
on Broad Street is Augusta's Confederate Monument, a white tower
erected in 1878 and inscribed this way: NO NATION ROSE SO WHITE
AND FAIR: NONE FELL SO PURE OF CRIME.
Crime in Richmond County is another story. Forty years after the
segregationist Cracker Party finally loosened its grip on
Augusta, local politics can still be a welter of personal
opportunism and racial friction. In 1983 County Sheriff J.B.
Dykes left office after pleading guilty to two counts of
obstruction of justice. The next year, Augusta's only
African-American mayor, Ed McIntyre, was convicted of extortion
and jailed after asking for kickbacks. In the spring of '95 came
the fiscal mess. And last November, Augusta and Richmond County
voted to consolidate their governments after 30 years of hot
debate. That quadrupled Augusta's population in an instant, but
it hasn't brought tranquillity: Boosters say consolidation is
good for attracting business, but with the affluent white
suburbs now conjoined with the city, black political power has
As the smoke clears, Augusta's first mayor-chairman is one Larry
Sconyers, a son of poor white farmers who parlayed the family's
back-road barbecue joint into a major landmark with 425 seats
and a national following of rib eaters. Sconyers may have been
riding around in a white stretch limousine the day after he was
elected, but some things never change: He still sports a gold
pig ring and matching gold pig necklace, and he still opposes
set-aside programs for minority businesses, and he dismissed a
study that concluded blacks weren't getting their share of the
"It's business as usual," says Barbara Gordon, the fiery editor
and publisher of The Metro Courier, a black Augusta weekly. "The
good ol' boys are still in charge, and until that changes,
blacks will be excluded from the economic development process.
People all over the country watch the Masters, but black folks
here pay little or no attention to it. They have other problems.
There's another world here beyond those manicured greens and the
azaleas--and it isn't nearly as pretty. This place is one of the
most racist little cities I've ever seen in my life, and I mean
The city won't be sending any bouquets to James Brown, either.
The Godfather of Soul grew up in Augusta and got his start in
showbiz playing a 10-cent harmonica on Ninth Street, which
bisects what used to be called The Terry--short for "Negro
Territory." In his youth Brown was as good at getting into
trouble as winning amateur contests at the old Lenox Theater,
but even after he helped invent funk, conquered Paris and cooled
out ghettos in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin
Luther King, the majority of Augustans paid him scant notice.
His brushes with the law didn't help. It wasn't until 1993 that
the city fathers renamed a section of Ninth Street James Brown
Boulevard. Even Tom Turner, an Augusta writer who used to go see
the "hardest- workin' man in show business" at the Bell
Auditorium, says he didn't understand James Brown's reach until
he kept noticing shop windows stuffed with Brown's album
covers--on a trip to Morocco.
If Martha and Betty Boardman's great-grandfather hadn't taken
the side of the South before the War Between the States and
moved his family to Augusta, they would have been, well ...
Yankees, condemned to boiling pot roast amid the snows of
Connecticut and hauling the Sunday New York Times from room to
chilly room. As it happened, though, the Boardman sisters were
blessed with sublime Southern girlhoods in a fine, tree-shaded
house on The Hill and summers on the cool shore of Boardman
Lake, southwest of the city, now square in the middle of the
U.S. Army's Fort Gordon. Back then the girls swam before
breakfast, ate cold watermelon in the afternoons and rode their
own merry-go-round. Almost from the moment Gene Sarazen scored
the famous double eagle in 1935, the Masters was in their blood,
which is some of the bluest in Augusta. Their father helped
build the family fortune in oil; their golf-loving mother walked
after Horton Smith and Ben Hogan at Augusta National--with
perhaps five or six other people in attendance. Later, Betty
Boardman was a 10 handicap and the women's champion of Augusta
Country Club. The sisters began giving Masters parties 25 years
For her part Martha, 66, never much cared for actually hitting
the ball, and she doesn't even blink when she reports that,
after moving away for 10 years with her first husband, she spent
another 20 years on the Augusta National waiting list before she
was able to buy a pair of annual Masters badges: "Actually, I
never thought I'd see the day," she says. "And I know that if
you do something they don't like out there--which no one I'm
acquainted with would ever do, of course--they'll yank your
tickets in a New York minute. Everybody in Augusta plays golf,
but it's too slow for me. I don't see enough result. I'd rather
dig in the garden and see what I did at the end of the day. Or
cook. I'd rather cook than eat."
In Masters weeks past, Martha has prepared Brazilian dinners for
150, six-course Greek feasts, and French and Portuguese
extravaganzas. She once decorated her Charleston, S.C., beach
house to resemble the Santa Maria under full sail, and she makes
a surpassing Bloody Mary. "I wouldn't let a caterer anywhere
near my house," she says. Nor an ounce of pretense. "I don't go
for highfalutin crap," she says, "and Gucci shoes don't make me
come to attention." But if a recipe calls for a clove of garlic,
she tosses in four, and she's likely to keep a fresh drink close
"In Augusta we love to entertain our visitors," Martha says,
"and Masters week is the pinnacle. Everybody here drinks like a
fish, and we like parties. Besides, we get so sick of lookin' at
each other that we embrace any new face we see. This can be a
gossipy little town, but pretty soon you just don't have
anything left to talk about. So the Masters is kind of a renewal
each April. New blood."
At her house Martha's sister does things her own way. Last year
Betty Boardman Bowring, 68, had a little Spanish place she knows
up in Greenwich Village pack paella for 60 in dry ice and fly it
down to Augusta on the next flight. She also imported the
resident songbird at New York City's Gramercy Park Hotel. Things
must be just right in Masters week, down to the last note.
Of course, not everyone drops by to see the Boardman sisters.
While Martha means well, it is difficult for her to transcend
her time and place. On interracial or interethnic romance, for
instance, Martha has a tart opinion. "The cardinal does not hook
up with the blue jay, does it?" And every morning of her life,
she says, "I wake up and look up to the heavens, and I say,
'God, I thank you for making me'--in this order--'Southern,
white, Anglo-Saxon and a nongolfer.'"
A friend of Martha's remembers a Sunday evening in April not
long ago when, looking for another quip and one last drink, he
dropped by her place to see if a party was still raging.
Instead, the graduate of Cordon Bleu and the rest of the world's
cooking schools had tacked a note to her door: NO TACOS, it
read. GO HOME.
In 1983 one Charles R. Harris, of nearby Blythe, Ga., crashed
his truck through the gate at Augusta National, careered on
toward the clubhouse and took five hostages in the pro shop.
President Ronald Reagan was visiting that day, and this was
Harris's way of saying he wanted a word with him. The intruder
was subdued, arrested and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in
prison. The immutable code of behavior at the club was quickly
restored. No running. No shouting. No periscopes. No unseemly
forms of dress. No boasts of important local friendships. And,
it goes without saying, no scalping of Masters tickets. Listen:
A sheriff's officer posing as a scalper once hauled a man off to
jail just for trying to pay an inflated rate--little matter that
the prospective buyer was a Catholic priest.
No one has put up a monument to Charles R. Harris, but there are
some in Augusta who take secret pleasure every time some lonely
rebel defies the city's most powerful institution--when Lee
Trevino disassociates himself from the club by changing into his
spikes in the parking lot, when a local member gets banished for
selling tee times to the unwashed, when a caddie (or a player!)
hides ticketless friends in the trunk of his car and motors
right past the sign that reads POSITIVELY NO ADMITTANCE.
Among this set Augusta's current Joan of Arc is Kathie Edwards,
who sells souvenir T-shirts out of a trailer on Washington Road.
Two years ago Edwards was one of two dozen small merchants who
got a stern letter from Augusta National warning that they had
violated the club's trademark guidelines with their products and
demanding that they cut it out. Edwards was the only one who
fought back. She had to go to Atlanta, 130 miles away, to find a
lawyer because no one in Augusta would represent her. And she
had to relent when her money ran out. But now well-wishers, even
the occasional bank president, will stop by the shop to shake
her hand. "Of course, no one will say anything in public,"
Edwards says. "They wouldn't dare. But I've lived here all my
life, and I'm tired of being bullied by the National. So I
didn't just say no. I said, Hell, no! And I may not be done with
all this. Tell you one thing, I'll be out there with my van
again this year."
In the poor, white district of Augusta called Pinch Gut, hard by
the river, no one gave a damn for golf. Until he was 20, Jackson
Carswell saw the game as a bunch of fools chasing a little ball
around a pasture with a stick, and he just shook his head. But
when the bug got him, he stayed bit. First round ever, he
astonished his partners by carding a 94, and on an average day
on a good course he shoots in the low 80s. As the proprietor of
Golf Tee and Learning Center, a roadside driving range way out
in Grovetown, 12 miles southwest of the city and seven miles off
the Bobby Jones Expressway, he sees what passion the game
arouses in Augusta. Curious young soldiers from Fort Gordon,
just across the road, wander into his place without ever having
held a four-iron. Low handicappers come by to work out their
problems, maybe do a little video analysis. Duffers duff.
The winter crowd interests Carswell most. "People come out here
in November and December and hit buckets of balls in the rain
and the sleet--sometimes when it's snowing. They're going to
play Augusta National, and they want to be ready. They
definitely do not want to embarrass themselves. Not up there.
Because for any golfer, it's heaven."
Actually, that's Gary Player's view too. "When I think of
Augusta, I think of great beauty," he once said. "I don't know
of a golf course where you have such tremendous beauty anywhere
in the world. And I've always said that if they have a course
like this in heaven, I hope I'm the head pro there one day."
Carswell doesn't want to be pro; he would just like to get a
round in. He has played Forest Hills and Goshen Plantation and
Cedar Creek and Jones Creek and other local courses, but never
the National. "I know a couple of members, but I don't know if
I'll ever be invited," he says.
Carswell will always remember the afternoon he saw another
Augusta boy win the Masters. It was 1987, and Carswell was
selling used cars at the time, so he watched the final round in
the office over at the dealership. And when Larry Mize sank a
140-foot pitch on number 11--the hole they call White
Dogwood--to beat Greg Norman in the playoff, the Augustan in
Jackson Carswell was moved. "It was a special moment," he says.
"Local boy." The day after winning the Masters, Mize honored a
commitment to play an exhibition for the soldiers at Fort
Gordon, something Carswell and the rest of Augusta have never
forgotten. A few weeks later the city had his picture painted on
the side of a downtown building in a suitably heroic pose.
The gesture befitted a player whose origins were not much
grander than Carswell's. As a boy Mize played golf with his
father, a marketing manager for the phone company, not at
Augusta National but at Augusta Country Club. Charles Mize was a
two handicapper, but by age 13, Larry was beating him regularly.
As if in preparation for a great moment to come, father and son
used to pitch golf balls to each other, front yard to back, over
the roof of the Mize house. Larry's mother, Elizabeth, sensed
something special right there. "They never broke a window--not
one," she says.
But Larry was breaking par, and his father remembers the days
when the two of them would walk together up the 9th fairway at
Augusta Country Club, which adjoins Augusta National's 13th tee.
"I can still see him," Charles says. "He would look through the
fence, wishfully, and he'd say, 'I'm gonna play there some day,
Mattie Devoe has been gone for 18 years now, and Dr. Teabeaut
hasn't had the Traditional Brunch in 10, since the big,
corporate Masters parties that now dominate Augusta started to
look like "TV commercials," and since complete strangers began
walking out of his garden with unopened half-gallons of his
liquor under their arms. For the first few years that didn't
stop the guests: Dozens of them still showed up at his house,
expecting an Irish coffee or the sight of Mattie bursting from
her egg, until it finally sank in that the party was over. For
the last three years the doctor has been sick--heart, kidneys,
some other vital organs wearying in the battle with time and
habit--and it irks him every time the truck from Poteet's
Funeral Home passes in front of the house. But Tbo says he will
revive Augusta's most famous Sunday party next spring. "I don't
have much time left," he says without rancor, "so we better get
on with it. We will do it again, the correct way."
It has always been thus. Up on The Hill and out at Augusta
National the code of behavior has always been written in old
blood, and Tbo has always subscribed to it. On a rainy Saturday
afternoon in Augusta, he navigates his big blue Cadillac through
the quiet streets of Summerville, where at the turn of the
century prosperous Georgians took up residence to escape yellow
fever and the "putrid effluvia" of rotting cottonseed oil, and
where assorted Yankees with names like Taft and Rockefeller
established their Southern pieds-a-terre.
As Tbo points out the homes of various Barretts and Phinizys and
Clays--impressive manses all--he remembers his first Masters. It
was almost 40 years ago, and the young doctor had just moved to
Augusta from North Carolina to take a teaching post. "I didn't
know anyone here, really," he says, "but I started meeting
people, going to parties. And I went to the tournament that
year. I remember it was a beautiful spring day. A man who was
later to become governor of the state came up to me at the golf
course and asked me to come by his house for a drink the next
morning. But first, he tapped me on the shoulder, looked me up
and down and said, 'Robert, you're a little short there.'" Tbo
immediately went home and put on long trousers.
"Always, the code has been maintained--and gently so," he says.
That's the way it will be in the end, too. The last sight on our
rain-sodden tour of The Hill is Summerville Cemetery, which is
enclosed by a wall of red brick and stands directly across the
way from Dr. Teabeaut's house on Montrose Court. Because he
lives within boundaries established in 1824, the doctor is
eligible for Summerville Cemetery, and he has already selected
his plot. He has also ordered workmen to cut a gap in the dense
green hedge surrounding his house and to install an iron gate
facing the street. That way, guests will not be inconvenienced
as they make their way from his funeral to one last party in his