Depending on whom you ask, the official arrival of spring begins either on March 1 (meteorological spring), March 21 (astronomical spring) or Monday to kick off the start of Masters week (golfers’ spring).
There is no tradition like the Masters Golf Tournament and if you are in the golf business you know what I mean. The membership at Augusta National Golf Club hosts the greatest event in all of sport, in my humble opinion. They do some unique things such as referring to ticket holders as “patrons,” price the concessions so inexpensive that the first time you visit The Masters as a patron you have to ask are you sure the price is right? A classic Coke cost $1.50 and a pimento cheese or ham sandwich costs only $1.50. Parking is FREE, and the grounds are manicured to perfection, leaving no stone unturned, no blade of grass out of place. It is a very spiritual place.
During yesterday’s Chairman’s Press Conference, Billy Payne, Masters Chairman, was asked about a rule in golf. He simply deferred answering the question by stating Augusta National is just a golf club that happens to host a well-known tournament, it wouldn’t be prudent to make golf policy decisions. In their own way, in an unassuming way, Augusta National and their leadership knows they are more than “just a golf club hosting a well-known tournament.” They are the most powerful golf body in the world. What Augusta National does, it is likely others will follow.
One of the tenets of the PGA of America is to grow the game of golf. As a PGA member for over 10 years I can tell you growing the game is the future of golf. While we, as PGA professionals, have always had strong initiatives to grow the game, the PGA of America, in my opinion, has fallen short.
What Payne announced Monday and re-iterated yesterday in his Chairman’s press conference was that if Augusta National wants to grow the game of golf and do it in an exciting way, they can do it. It was announced in partnership with the USGA and the PGA of America, Augusta National created a competition for junior golfers to introduce and inspire a new generation of golfers. The competition is the National Championship of the Drive, Pitch and Putt competition with the finals at Augusta National Golf Club on the Sunday before tournament week.
There have been a lot of growing the game initiatives, and they have been pretty successful, but if I know Augusta National like I think I do, this new competition is going to inspire, introduce and invigorate a new generation of golfers. Well done, Chairman Payne, well done!