Masters – Augusta National

The Masters Golf Tournament (in my opinion) is the most special sporting event of all time. It has been said that the grounds at August National is the most well-manicured piece of real estate that exists in the United States. I have been there and do not doubt it is true.

A family member of mine (Spooky Craddock) and our wives were having lunch recently and the topic of the Masters always seems to come up around this time of year. He has been invited to play the course many times and I have only thought about playing the course many times. Ha

Augusta National operates as an absolute dictatorship. If you think about it, it almost has to be, given that its members are some the most powerful and recognized people in the world. Presidents, CEO’s, politicians, athletes, corporate leaders etc. If every decision was up for discussion and a vote, can you imagine? Therefore, the Chairman of August National makes all decisions, and every decision is final. I do not know if this happened once or if it happens all the time, but the chairman some time ago opened the business meeting with his financial report. He said, “last year we made more money than we spent.” That was the end of the business meeting. No handouts, no questions, no opinions. Just a simple statement and that was it. Ha

Two stories Spooky told me that may give you some perspective on Augusta National and how it operates – Some years ago when Clifford Roberts was the chairman (he served 45 years as the chairman) they had admitted a new member. During the business meeting this new member began to ask a lot of financial questions about income, staffing and various expenses etc. After the business meeting, the new member went out and played a round of golf. Clifford Roberts met the new member on the 18th green and ask him if he enjoyed his round. “oh yes, it was great.” he said. Clifford Roberts told him he was glad and told the new member that he was no longer a member of Augusta National and to get his things and leave. The meaning – no one questions the Chairman.

Some will remember there used to be a big tree in the 17th fairway that stuck out well into the fairway. They called it the Eisenhower tree because every time Dwight D. Eisenhower (‘Ike’) would play, he would hit his ball into that tree. In one business meeting, Ike was present when Clifford Roberts was chairman. He stood up and said, “I make a motion that we cut down that tree on the 17th fairway” and sat down. Clifford Roberts said “sir you may be the president of the United States, but I am the chairman of Augusta National and your motion is denied. Anyone else have anything they want to say?” it was crickets.

During the Masters week they sell on average, one million dollars an hour of Masters merchandise (shirts, hats etc.) The most amazing thing to me about the Masters tournament is the prices they charge at their concession stands. It is like stepping back in time. The egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches are $1.50, soft drinks are $2.00 and chips are $1.50. Try that at a national league baseball game.

There are many aspects of the Masters, which have become almost part of the soul of the American people. Even people who do not play golf are mesmerized by the reverence, respect and professionalism in the way the tournament is presented. It is almost like you’re in a time capsule watching a bygone era of American sports when life was simple. To say it is special, is an understatement. It is really the most special sporting event of all time. KT

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