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.”
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.”
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.
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
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
and said, “You are absolutely right.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.