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On the Lip - While golf may have started in Scotland, it was perfected or “mastered” in Augusta.
No doubt the birth of golf stated in Scotland around the mid 15th century. In the 16th century golf gained status and popularity largely due to the royals interest and participation. King Charles I popularized the game in England and Mary Queen of Scots, who was French, introduced the game to France while studying there. In 1744 the first club was formed, The Gentlemen Golfers of Leith, to promote an annual competition with a silver club as the prize. In 1754 the St. Andrews Society of Golfers was formed and King William honored the club with the title “Royal & Ancient in 1834 and in 1854 the new famous clubhouse was erected. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews became the premier golf club because of it’s fine course, the publication of rules, it’s royal patronage and it’s promotion of the game as a proper sport. A discrepancy between the size and weight of the golf ball is what caused the rift between the R&A and the USGA that lasted 30 years. It was at this time that the Ryder Cup was introduced, Europeans –vs- Americans. Although a big time tournament and much anticipated event still there is nothing like the Masters.
Arguably, the most difficult sporting event to get an entrance ticket for is the Masters, held annually in Augusta, Georgia. Forget March Madness it is all about Masters Mania. It is the only golf event that does not have on site hospitality. Thus a common practice for those lucky ticket holders is to rent a house, as one gentleman put it, about a 6 iron from one of the gates of Augusta National. These houses are converted into the ultimate entertainment facility with a full service staff including chef, valet parking or chauffeur and on site assistants for your every whim. It even extends to the back yard which becomes an open air gentleman’s club including a tented area with big leather chairs and couches, liquor, fully stocked cigar area and of course a mega plasma flat screen. These golf lovers and others jet in to the event for a day or two. A common practice used by many is NetJets, fractional jet ownership, that allows Marquis Jet Card holders to fly privately with guests when they want without the responsibility of full ownership. After all what could be better than a few days at the Masters? From the moment you arrive, “You get it”.
What makes the Masters so unique is the very, very green pristine greens and fairways, an extremely organized system and staff and a sense that only the very best will do. Imagine Disney World meets Versailles surrounded by a Japanese botanical garden and add golf. The only bargain is the sandwiches, which have not changed in price in probably the last 20 years. Wrapped in green cellophane, one can only imagine for if by chance the wrapper should drop to the ground it would go unnoticed. The most well known but perhaps not the best tasting is the pimiento, spicy cheese wiz between two slices of bread. The caddies as many people know are in white jumpsuits, well there is also an army of clean up people in yellow jumpsuits throughout the course.
Homeland security could learn a thing or two from the Masters. This is definitely an Al Qaeda free environment. No matter who you are, a through search is done of your possessions, which you are only allowed a bag no bigger that a freezer size zip lock. Absolutely no cell phones, no soda, coffee or any other branded refreshment and if you have water the label must be removed before you enter or they will do it for you. Everyone files through a security metal detector similar to the airport and then has their entrance badge, which has a bar code on it, scanned by a computer. The course is marked and roped to perfection and there are clearly identifiable marshals and assistants at every turn. The par three competition on Wednesday is by far the best day, the players are relaxed, joking, accessible and it is common for them to have their children caddy for them.
Although not publicized the estimated revenue generated from the merchandise tent, only open for the week of the Masters and only accessible to those lucky enough to have tickets, garners about 20 million for the week. The talented winner takes home the signature green jacket and lots of green to fill the pockets, $ 1,260,000.00 to be exact. Bottom line everything at the Masters is coming up GREEN.
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