Lanny Bassham is at The Master's this week and sending over updates each day. Here is the first one.
The Masters - There's nothing else like it in sport.
The Olympic is incredible, the Super Bowl and the World Series are tops but they change venues almost every year, but not the Masters. The reason this event is special is it's location. Augusta National is like no other location in sport to spawn history and a reverence for tradition.
Of the 111 players in this year's Masters, 6 are amateurs and for 13 pros this will be their first time at Augusta National. It is also my first time here and I can tell you this is no ordinary PGA Tour event. Tickets for the Masters are bought up decades in advance. Trainers like Troy and I cannot get in with PGA credentials like other events. Players get two tickets only and unless you want to pay a fortune to someone willing to give up a ticket you are watching this one on TV. The Augusta National is a shrine to pro golf and the fans treat coming to the Masters like a pilgrimage. This event is not only golf's highest honor to win, it is the best event to attend. Why? Because Augusta National does it right. First, the players are the best golf has to offer and they are treated like it here. They do not have to worry about autographs. It is not allowed. Press is limited to only 300 and they are the elite. Security is everywhere and you cannot sneak in a phone or even an Ipod. I went through two scanners and a pat down to get in the gate. Secondly, the fans are the best. It still seems crowded to me compared to the other events I've attended but the fans I talked to that are veterans of the Masters love the way they are treated here. Parking is handled professionally and although security is tight they have plenty of people to handle the crowd. One thing golf does better than any other sport in my opinion is to honor their past champions and at the Masters this is multiplied ten-fold. There is so much history here and Palmer, Nicklaus and Player to boot.
One big problem at most tour events is what's for lunch. Normally it is a $4 coke and a $8 cold hot dog. Not at this place. I had lunch today for three bucks. Sandwiches here range from $1.50 to $2.50 with big sodas at $1.50 and 16oz beer at $2.75. They can feed them faster here too, plenty of food lines and nice friendly people checking you out.
Today was just light practice for the players but tomorrow the battle starts for real. We have 5 clients here so I will be rooting for them. Keep your fingers crossed for Ben Crane, Jerry Kelly, Rory Sabbatini, Brian Gay and Justin Leonard.