04.13.09 · Ashley Bowen Cook
I was lucky enough spend Friday and Saturday at the Mecca of golf – the Masters. From the moment you walk through the turnstile, you see the zenith of event-planner perfection. Abundant metal detectors and security pass-points, minimizing your time in line to mere seconds. Meticulous landscaping and litter-free grounds. Easily accessible bathrooms. Polite, smiling people everywhere.
You pass through the gift shop where you’re tempted to spend your mortgage payment purchasing logoed sweaters, hats and bar glasses so you can walk away with a little piece of Augusta National. And because they want you to buy souvenirs by the armloads, you can overnight your goodies home. They even pack everything up for you – free of charge. They make it easy for you to be bad.
Once you exit and walk out from the shade of the buildings into the sunshine, you see the huge Masters scoreboard. And know that you’ve made it. You’re entering the ground hallowed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods.
Sweating the Details
Even with hundreds of people going through the concession stand at once, we never waited more than two minutes. Apparently the menu has been the same for years. You pick from six sandwiches that come in Masters-green-sealed plastic bags. Each is $2.50 or less. You select from three kinds of beer, pop, sports drink or water. You’re given two chip choices. Two cookie choices. Ice cream bars or moon pies? They keep things simple and focused on the main event: golf.
Clear, ever-present wayfinding makes it impossible to get lost. And restrooms, well, if you’re a woman, you’ve got it made. The men seemed to outnumber the women 3 to 1. For once in my life, I never stood in line or saw long lines at the women’s restrooms. Attendants kept everything sparkling, items stocked and complaints nonexistent.
Experience of a Lifetime
I may be married to a golf instructor, but I have a newfound appreciation for the sport and for putting on a first-class event. I had to leave before the final day (Sunday, April 12) and so didn’t witness Angel Cabrera’s second sudden-death playoff and win over Kenny Perry. Still, I left feeling like I’d been part of history. The entire Masters’ experience had so much hype behind it that I wondered if it would possibly live up to the legend. It did.