This is one of my favorite days of the year. Competition begins today in The Masters. It’s not just that it’s the first of golf’s major championships but also that it’s one of the big harbingers of Spring along with the opening of the baseball season and lighting the grill for the first time each year. But there is one other thing about The Masters that make it one of, if not the, most unusual events in sport. Is it that it’s the only major championship played on the same course each year? No. That it’s an invitational? No. The thing that distinguishes The Masters from almost everything else is sport is that the organizers truly don’t care about the money. What CBS pays them could be doubled or tripled and still not be at market value. What they charge patrons for their famous pimento cheese sandwiches (which are delicious) is what the USTA charges for toothpicks at the Open.
This event is truly about tradition and sportsmanship. Come to our home, respect where you are, enjoy the competition. While nearly every other event organizer is beholden to TV, Augusta National tells the broadcasters when and what they’ll be permitted to televise. They even make the announcers call golf differently – first nine, second nine, first cut (no rough here), patrons (no fans or gallery or mob!). While nearly everything else in sports, both professional and non (are there such things?) is about MORE, this event is about a more relaxed time and less is more here.
Don’t think these guys live in 1939 – their digital efforts are every bit as good as 2009 demands (including an iPhone app). While I’m the first to say this club has issues with respect to women and minorities, where they may be living in 1939, on the whole I don’t think it would be a bad thing if other entities in sport learned from them with respect to priorities.
The Masters may start on the back nine (second nine, if you please) on Sunday, but I’ll be watching every other minute as well, thinking about how the world of sport would be different if they did a number of things the Augusta National way. Will you be watching?