BARNETT – This is an unincorporated settlement, which is nothing more than a long blast for a professional PGA golfer driver from Highway 20 – a place with a connection to the sport’s history that loses its luster over time.
Before we get to the historical link, here’s a note on how I came to take a short break in the Warren County community.
Last week for the Masters Golf I chose to travel to Augusta from Athens. Sleeping in one’s bed never grows old. Getting to Augusta has been for years going the two-lane US 78 through Crawford, Lexington, Raleigh, Washington, connecting to I-20 East in Thompson, and to my destination.
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Lots of beautiful countryside, greenery, fields, farms, minimal roadside rubbish, and obnoxious billboards along the way greet you. Also, there are plentiful pickup trucks which exacerbate the traffic congestion when turning left as it always seems. Then there seems to be forever that truck followed by a shy lady who hesitates to squeeze the gas of her Chevy jacket, pass the truck’s crawl, and give backup traffic a break with a chance to overtake said log truck.
My favorite route isn’t without this traffic deterrent, but Georgia Highway 15 south to Greensboro and Siloam is a much better option if you’re going Augusta Road. Much faster too. Pickup trucks abound and you might get frustrated, but once you meet I-20 in Siloam, which got its name from the Siloam Tunnel in the Old Testament and which Hezekiah used to defend Jerusalem, driving can’t be enough. More relaxed and satisfying.
Now you’re on a less traveled route that starts near Kent, Texas, and runs about 1,535 miles east to Florence, SC. I bet there’s no longer an extension of the I-20 you find from Siloam to the Washington Road exit near Augusta National Golf Club.
When the exit signs appear, you are notified of several options. Near Crawfordville, you can go out and find the home of Andrew Stevens, Vice President of the Federation. Along the way is the Harlem exit, where you can explore the Oliver and Hardy Museum, stars of the silent film era. Stan Laurel hails from Lancashire, England, and Oliver Hardy was a native of Harlem.
It is interesting how people come together and make an impact on society in some way. Then there’s the advice to get straight from Siloam to Sandersville, but there’s no mention of the fact that the Washington County seat is the birthplace of Elijah Muhammad, the founder of the Nation of Islam. Same with no Thompson mark around his native son Jeff Knox, whose golf is good enough to play in the Masters when a mark is needed when an uneven number of players are making the cut. When that happens, Jeff is sometimes the last amateur standing in the championship.
There are no signs near Evans for Thoron Sapp, the former Georgia linebacker who broke his neck in high school but has recovered to sign for the All-SEC team in Georgia and played nine years in the NFL. He was remembered as the man who broke the drought when he scored a touchdown that ended eight straight years of defeats against Georgia Tech.
This brings us back to Barnett, the hometown of a major league pitcher named Jim Bagby the father who gave birth to Jim Bagby Jr. Kabir Bagby was born in Barnet and enjoyed a nine-year career in the major leagues. He was the first bowler to shoot at home in the modern world championships.
Jim Bagby, his son, would also make it to the big business and would enjoy the privilege of being the bowler who finished Joe Dimaggio’s hitting streak.
If you are a baseball fan, you know about the famous Dimaggio streak that ended in 56 consecutive games on July 17, 1941 in Cleveland. (By the way, Charlie, the son of Jim Bagby Jr., was a prominent basketball and baseball athlete at the University of Georgia.)
On group trips to Augusta, there were spring flowers to enjoy, and fallow fields whose seeds would soon be sown and turned into plants that would produce a harvest in the fall. Good turkey hunting along this route and kids playing baseball.
Perhaps, one of them might be good enough to get into the big leagues and enjoy a ‘Day in the Sun’ just like they did in the past with ‘Bagbys of Barnett’.