Saturday, April 7, 2012

Masters Article 3

At the conclusion of our rules meeting this week, we were shown a video by the Augusta National Golf Club. The title was “The Masters Experience” and the content was focused on staff and volunteers. Its content emphasized that every individual involved with The Masters in anyway is extremely important.
The goal of The Masters is to provide the best maintained golf course to the participants. As of Thursday morning’s start, there was not a single drop of white paint defining ground under repair anywhere on the course. Tournament guests are to “receive every courtesy possible.” The emphasis of every day at The Masters is about “quality and attention to detail.”
All individuals who are involved with the implementation of any facet of The Masters are expected to offer a “very welcoming world class experience” and the goal in delivering that is to “exceed everyone’s expectations.”
Every individual is important. When we arrive at dusk each day we will see hundreds of leaf and pine straw blowers. It’s not uncommon to see painters touching up the curbing with the traditional Augusta green paint. That green paint is used on all posts, signs and accessories at Augusta National. Green sand is spread in the pedestrian crosswalk areas to absorb moisture and blend in with the grass, so as to be less noticeable.
Augusta National takes great pride in the number of scoreboards it has on the course, making it very easy to know what is going on at all times. Moans and groans or cheers will often time accompany the changing of numbers on those boards. The Masters provides a tremendous number of observation stands and the course design lends itself well to the small portable chairs that many spectators bring.
If a spectator places a seat in a spot on the golf course during The Masters, they can leave and walk around the course or get some food and return to that same spot with the chair never being moved. I can’t think of any other sporting event where that happens.
I was seated next to Lance Barrow, Executive Producer for CBs Sports, when the video was shown. At the conclusion of “The Masters Experience” I leaned over to Lance and said, “That was a five minute directive on how to run every business in this country.”
He nodded and said, “You are absolutely right.”
The weather has presented some challenges for Augusta National this week. Early week rains have made the course softer than normal. Friday it was bitter cold at times with temperatures in the high 50’s and winds out of the north by nearly 30 mph. Several trees have been blown down, but other than a slight delay or two in opening the gates each morning the gallery would never know.
Speaking of the gallery, the marshals here are referred to as gallery guards. Many of these volunteers travel from all over the country to reunite with their fellow workers on the same hole during each Masters. They are truly stalwarts of the tournament and assist the rules officials with crowd control, removal of rope stakes and notification when a player needs a ruling.
I have worked the 8th hole each of my four years here at The Masters and have gotten to know many of the guys well. It’s like a reunion of sorts when we see each other. These people take pride in their jobs and they do it because they can spend a week at this beautiful place. Their reward is an opportunity to play the course on a day in May when The National gets ready to close for the season.
This course will close in mid-May and reopen in late October. It’s been that way for years. If there are course renovations or design changes- that is when it happens. I am always amazed at the improvements and new features that show up every year at The National. When they surface, it appears as they have been here forever.
I have stayed away from predictions for this Masters. Mainly, because I have been fortunate to get to know many of the players, which makes it tough to pick a favorite. Nobody would have guessed that Charl Schwartzel would birdie the final four holes to win the 2011 Masters. The early leaderboard this week provides many players who could win.
There is one guy that deserves a major championship and that is Lee Westwood. He is currently ranked number three in the world behind Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy. Westwood has numerous runner-up finishes in the majors. He has been a whipping boy at times for the British tabloids for his failure to close the deal.
Westwood is strong and experienced. He quit drinking on January 1 as a commitment to fitness and his 2012 season. The time just seems right for him. As we all know, this tournament really starts with the back nine on Sunday. In the meantime, players jockey for position to be in contention when that famous stretch of holes presents itself.
On Sunday afternoon, I will be working the 11th hole- Augusta’s toughest. That is a ringside seat at the gates of Amen Corner. It will be here before you know it and another Masters will have come and gone.        

No comments:

Post a Comment