I deleted my previous comments on this, to spare everyone the overblown misunderstand and unnecessary re-explanation it prompted. So, I'll try again.
Keeping a local copy of master is important for being able to see the "this works" version of the code, apart from your working branch, on your local machine using local tools. You don't edit it, you don't work on it, you only git pull it when it has been updated remotely.
This has nothing to do with branching. You can certainly branch from remote -- it may even save you some effort -- but that's beside my point. The local master copy is your clean "reading copy" of "this code works".
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