Commentary: Observations, insights after a week at Augusta
by John Bednarowski
sportseditor@mdjonline.com
April 14, 2014 04:01 AM | 1461 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There are many sights around Augusta National which the TV audience and many of the patrons at the course don’t get to see, like the clubhouse and media gallery.
<BR>Associated Press photo
There are many sights around Augusta National which the TV audience and many of the patrons at the course don’t get to see, like the clubhouse and media gallery.
Associated Press photo
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AUGUSTA — Every year, thousands of people make the trip to Augusta National Golf Club to watch the Masters. Millions more watch the tournament on TV.

While everything that is seen is beautiful and memorable, there are areas of the grounds they will never see.

This past week, I had the opportunity to cover the Masters for the first time and had the chance to see some of those things that aren’t shown on ESPN or CBS.

Here are some observations from inside the media gallery, clubhouse and the green jacket ceremony.

* * *

To cover the tournament, a journalist can do so a couple of ways.

One, you walk the golf course with a particular player, as I did following Acworth native Chris Kirk.

Or, if a writer is trying to follow many players at once, he or she can remain in the state-of-the-art media gallery, where the tournament organizers have made the task as easy as possible.

The gallery has 10 rows of stadium-style seating for more than 500 writers. Each seat has its own tablet-style monitor that offers CBS, ESPN, ESPN2, the Golf Channel and the Weather Channel.

In addition, you can watch live feeds of every hole on the back nine. You can also access real-time leaderboards with intricate stats and information for every player.

If a person has to leave their seat for any reason, no problem. There are three enormous television monitors hung on the front wall and anchored to the ceiling. Two of them show the main broadcast, while the one in the middle is a leaderboard that focuses on the top 10 and changes instantly as scores are reported.

For players who aren’t in the top 10, there’s the main scoreboard — a 15-foot high structure under the televisions. Four gentlemen spend the entire day going up and down 14-foot ladders to update each player’s score as soon as he finishes a hole.

And, if someone needs to talk to multiple people at the same time but can’t be in two places at once, Masters media officials record interviews with every player as they finish and provide transcripts in a matter of moments.

Need to know what time it is? There’s a wall of clocks that shows the time in eight different areas around the world, indicative of the many languages you can hear at Augusta.

* * *

Entering the Augusta National clubhouse, a person is struck with the lack of a particular color — Masters green.

The color schemes are neutral beiges and whites. The furniture is conservative and comfortable. Chairs and couches are slightly overstuffed, while tables, breakfronts and buffets are in a dark brown wood.

In the main hallway, there’s a wall dedicated to the Masters champions. There, each winner has what appears to be a 6-by-8-inch bronze relief plaque set inside an 8-by-10 frame, with the player’s name and winning year underneath.

Directly across the hall from the champions wall is a large bronze plaque.

The other artwork is dedicated to the different flowers and trees that are planted on the grounds, with the exception of two paintings of holes on the course. But it’s not of the holes that would first come to mind, like Amen Corner. It’s paintings of the par-3 sixth and the par-5 eighth holes.

Also located on the main level is the actual Masters trophy.

The large silver award depicts the Augusta National clubhouse on a large round base. The base is engraved with the year of the tournament, the name of the winner and runner-up and their scores. The original base holds the results from the inaugural event in 1934 through 1990. A thicker, larger second base was added in 1991 and holds the remainder.

That second base is currently one-third of the way filled and should last for approximately another 40 years.

Upstairs in the clubhouse is the main dining room, which leads out onto the wrap-around veranda, where the members — and anyone with the appropriate credentials, can have lunch looking out over the Big Oak Tree, the first tee and the original putting green.

The grill room is very masculine with a solid oak bar and a dozen matching tables and chairs where golfers can have a bite to eat or have a meeting.

The focal point of the room are large display cases that hold one of the lesser-known Masters traditions.

When a player wins at Augusta National, he donates a club that he used in the tournament. Those clubs are all on display with a brass plaque to identify them. Many of the clubs were used for historic shots, like the wedge Larry Mize used on his historic chip-in to beat Greg Norman to win the 1987 Masters.

The pro shop can’t be described as anything but cozy. About the dimensions of a good-sized living room, the furniture and fixtures are in the same dark wood as the clubhouse and grill. The items available in the pro shop, at least during Masters week, are the top-of-the-line clothing and accessories that can be purchased in the merchandise shops, with a few premier extras — including watches, leather portfolios and different style shirts and cashmere sweaters.

* * *

For those watching on TV, CBS always broadcasts a green jacket ceremony downstairs in Butler Cabin. What the viewers don’t see is another ceremony the club holds on the putting green.

On Sunday, Augusta National chairman Billy Payne, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and low amateur Oliver Goss walked down a green carpet through a crowd of approximately 5,000 fans, club members and dignitaries of golf.

After Payne is finished recognizing the R&A of St. Andrews, the European PGA Tour, the United States Golf Association, the PGA Tour, the PGA of America, the Augusta National members, grounds crew and staff, and approximately 40 other worldwide golf organizations, the prizes are awarded.

Goss was presented with the Silver Cup, Watson got the winner’s trophy — a replica of the Augusta National clubhouse. Finally, Scott put the green jacket back on Watson.

Watson then made a few remarks and Payne announced the tournament as closed.

In all, the ceremony lasts about 10 minutes.

John Bednarowski is sports editor of the Marietta Daily Journal. He can be reached at sportseditor@mdjonline.com or on Twitter @jbednarowski.
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