Augusta National Masters hosts the world!
This golf course is the story of the USA spirit. The amateur Bobby Jones dreamed of a club course that started on a shoe string in Augusta, Georgia. This course was built during the depths of our Depression. If you love something deeply enough there will always be a way to build your dream. It opened in 1933 as a private golf club.
It has been my privilege and pleasure to spend time with residents in Augusta. I had the opportunity to view several of the tournaments and these are memories that illuminate the current Masters of 2014. It was not until the 1980’s that the public interest in golf, golfers, and Augusta National started to create a demand for tournament passes. They would give away passes as promotions from local retail stores during the 1970’s! Remember that the 1970’s the USA was in a brutal recession, with high unemployment, and rising inflation.
My personal idol Dwight Eisenhower would spend weeks on the National Club property in a humble cabin. Being a retired general, his needs were simple for his comforts. Members were always ready for an evening of poker, cocktails, and golf stories. He made great friends with members that basically promised that he would not need to campaign for president. They funded his campaign for President. They connected him to other supporters across the USA. Dwight continued to golf and sporadically grant an interview or make a short speech for president. He won, of course! As president, his love of golf was a national news story. That is why he hated to run for president and the public intrusions into his golfing with his buddies.
Visitors from the world are in the town of Augusta. The airport cannot park all the private jets, so they have many jets depart empty to return later for their departure. They add many commercial flights for visitors. Of course Arnold Palmer always had his jet parked at the airport, just as Jack Nicklaus. If Arnold missed the cut as was common in the years I came to the Masters, then his staff would get an Italian dinner from Luigi’s brought to the jet Friday afternoon for his return home.
I heard the stories of Nick Faldo being a tightwad while he was staying at my motel. A lot of the players rent a house from locals so they can bring their family and relatives to watch the tournament. Nick Price shared some smokes and cocktails away from home, since his wife forbade his smoking. His caddy “Squeaky” was well known and loved and greatly missed. My buddy Steve usually helped Nick find a house he could rent. Those local families took the huge chunk of cash and went on a very nice vacation as the town was over run with damn Yankees! Local maid service get great tips and make a lot of money for all the rented houses. Catering and liquors stores make fortunes during the week for private corporate parties in these mansions rented.
There are players and fans from China, Japan, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Ireland, England and Fiji! Anyway, it proves that the love of the game and the fans of the players now draws a full house. Augusta National never gouges anyone and never turns their tournament into a circus of marketing. The refreshment stands and food stands have no company logo or any advertising. The prices are modest. The fans are polite. The money it takes to get a tournament pass from a pass owner is beyond belief! I loved the Masters and I still love the Masters!