“Is it worth our trouble to have to listen to "patrons" for four days? The answer is yes. The alternative would be allowing CBS to control the content. Viacom, which owns CBS, doesn't care about golf. The Augusta National people care about golf.”
This week is my favorite week of the year to watch golf. If you love golf and you have never been to The Masters Tournament, you need to go. Herb Wind designated The Masters like opening day at so many ball parks around the country. There are so many things that Augusta National Golf Club does right in presenting the tournament both in person and on television.
Let’s start with in person. The parking is free and it’s an easy walk to the course. The concession prices are incredibly reasonable. The first time I went through the line I grabbed an egg salad sandwich and a diet Coke. The cashier said that’ll be $3. I said that I had the drink along with the sandwich and she again said that’ll be $3. So OK, that’s nice.
There are so many wonderful viewing areas some with spectator stand seating some with natural gradual slopes such as the 18th green. Speaking of the 18th green it’s so cool to see patrons place their seat near that green in the early morning and go spectate at other parts of the course. No one touches or moves that seat and the patron returns to it later in the day.
There’s no “flotsam and jetsam” (as Frank used to call it) in the fairways, only the player and caddie. And the caddie wears the club uniform of a white jumpsuit and Augusta National Golf Club hat. It’s pure golf with virtually no distractions. No crazies yelling stupid utterances such as … well you know.
The club has total control.
Each year the club makes improvements and keeps moving the bar higher. In recent years they’ve built the ultimate high-end hospitality area, Berkmans Place, a new press building last year and a new Masters Golf Shop this year.
There are so many wonderful traditions that the club supports and perpetuates such as the amateur and champions dinners, the par 3 contest and the honorary starters. The club oozes history and tradition. Everywhere you look there are familiar settings - Amen Corner, the Crow’s Nest, Rae’s Creek, and Butler Cabin. There’s Hogan’s Bridge, as well as Nelson, Sarazen, and many other monuments to recognize and honor the past including plaques commemorating Jack Nicklaus (6 wins) and Arnold Palmer (4 wins).
On television The Masters is fantastic. There are minimal commercial interruptions thanks to the control Frank referred to. We don’t see the normal promotions of weekly tournament telecasts and there’s no konica minolta biz-hub swing vision camera.
We know the holes by heart and we know what’s coming. We know the history and hope for a classic ending like Jack in 1986 or in 1997 when Tiger became the youngest (at 21) to win, and after an opening nine of 40. Think of it. He finished the 72 holes in 18 under par after that first nine of plus four. That’s 22 under for his last 63 holes. I walked that front nine and had to leave to catch a flight home.
Starting this Thursday, I’ll be watching as much as I can and I will definitely be front and center for the last nine holes on Sunday maybe with a pimento cheese sandwich.