On Monday April 4th, 2016, I was able to attend a practice round for The Masters.
Augusta National is just as you would expect.
If you’re a golf fan then you know about The Masters. It seems to be the most well known and most sought after event in the world of golf.
I actually read a book about the start of The Masters and the course, Augusta National, before the trip. Things didn’t get off to a great start for the club. The event was actually created to build awareness to gain more members.
Things have come a long way since the first event in 1934. Things were good that year. It made big news as the first tournament in four years for golfing legend Bobby Jones.
Today, The Masters is recognized as the best of the best when it comes to a tournament both in the quality of play and the quality of the operation and experience.
And it’s also true for the course.
Most golf fans have heard about the course… It’s hilly. The greens are crazy fast with all kinds of mounds and slopes. You won’t see a brown piece of grass. You won’t see a leaf or pine cone out of place. And the flowers are in perfect bloom.
It’s all true.
But it really is something to see even if you’ve heard it all before.
Here are some of my thoughts.
User Experience Is Incredible
I went with three other friends and one of the first comments that someone made was that it always seemed like when we needed it there was a concession stand within a minute’s walk.
It was kind of a crazy revelation.
You don’t even realize it, but every aspect of the course and the event are enjoyable from the perspective of the patron (and that is the preferred term). Lines don’t seem too long. People are friendly. When you feel the need for something it’s always available.
It’s really weird in a way because so much of life is not that way. You feel spoiled. But it does make you feel good.
From the beginning, which I read in that book, the goal was to provide a great experience for patrons at the event.
Winners of The Masters receive a green jacket. They can take it with them for one year after winning, but then it stays at Augusta National. The reason for those jackets was that it served as a uniform that members of the club wore so patrons knew the people to approach with questions during The Masters.
It made me think of software and websites and apps and things like that. Or even stores and offices in the business world.
When was the last time you were using an app and had the feeling that something was right there when you needed it? I get that feeling on Twitter. It’s simple yet complex. It has a purpose and sticks with it.
Others come to mind, but one thing you know is what a bad experience feels like and that sticks with you.
It’s kind of weird to write, but in some ways Augusta National reminds me of Walmart and Amazon as well. They all focused on reasonable prices.
The Masters sells concessions for very reasonable prices. A beer is $2, maybe $3. A sandwich is something around $2 and so is an ice cream sandwich. It’s all reasonable compared to other sporting events.
A ticket is $65 for a practice round. There is a lottery. I’ve been putting in for a few years and got picked for this year’s even last summer. There is no waiting list. It’s luck of the draw every year.
But you can attend for a very reasonable amount of money for what you’re getting. You really feel like you’re getting value for your money.
I don’t know how much Augusta National charges for membership or what they get in TV fees, but to have reasonable prices they need a lot of customers. That means patrons on the ground, people watching on TV and on the apps and websites. It means a lot of people need to pay attention to The Masters.
That’s a hard game to play because it’s hard to get a big audience. But Augusta National took that focus and it’s worked for them in the long-term in a very similar way that it’s worked for Walmart and Amazon.
And perhaps unlike those brands, The Masters has been able to build a high class image with reasonable prices.
The Masters tournament was a success its first year back in 1934. That’s how most viewed it according to that book I read, but it didn’t have a ton of patrons that first year. Not many tournaments would. But it’s steadily grown in the years since. One thing that seemed clear from the beginning was the importance of patience. The Masters seems to take a long-term view on things.
When I found out that I got the tickets I wanted to make sure to have patience. I knew the event would be wonderful to attend, but I didn’t want to get overly excited and focused on it. I wanted to live and enjoy life in the months leading up to the event. I wanted to have the patience to enjoy it once it arrived. And I think I succeeded in that aspect. It was very enjoyable. My expectations weren’t too high. I just enjoyed the moments and it was a great trip.