The Masters is undoubtedly the finest major championship in golf.  It has everything going for it.

The Augusta National Golf Club hosts the tournament every year the first full week of April.  This rite of spring is a spiritual awakening for golfers coming out of their winter hibernation.  With its colorful collection of dogwoods and azaleas in full bloom, a course groomed in pristine condition along with the traditions and deep history in sharp focus, the Masters is the pinnacle for players and patrons.

If a club had 365 days to prepare to conduct a major golf championship chances are there would be no reason for anything to go wrong.  However at times things do go wrong.  I recall one year a strong thunderstorm raced through the property causing damage to several aspects of the course.  In particular, a restroom facility behind the sixteenth tee box had a tree land on the structure putting a large hole in the roof.  I attended the tournament the following day, a perfect sun splashed occasion often experienced in Augusta.  After watching action on the fifteenth fairway and downing a few sweet teas, nature called and I made my way up to the comfort station, the same structure that had been damaged the day before.  It was impossible to tell that twenty hours earlier the building had a tree poking through the roof.  There is seemingly nothing the powers of the membership at ANGC can’t do during Masters week.  But I did find one.

This issue does not affect the scores of viewers who watch the coverage on network television, cable, stream or on  I know a fellow who takes the week of the Masters off from work and consumes massive hours of coverage.  By the way, the Masters website is one of the finest you will ever come across in any sport.  It covers every shot from every player Thursday through Sunday, an unbelievable task.  The graphics, scoring, video highlights, story lines, photography, it’s as close as you can get without being on the grounds.  While you won’t capture the amazing topography of the routing (it’s a very hilly golf course), you will see shots up close and personal.  While the CBS coverage may be a bit staid, it fits with the tradition of the event.  For the tournament isn’t just about the competition in the current year, rather it encompasses every previous Masters and the memorable events that unfolded.

If you happen to be fortunate to be a patron at the Masters it is a spectacle that, in my opinion, exceeds every other ultra experience in sport.  Many will be taken aback by the value and quality of the food concessions.  The sandwiches are tasty, with the pimento cheese garnering most of the attention.  I’ve been to the tournament maybe fifteen times.  Never had one.  My go to is always the selection of Masters cookies.  Others praise the Georgia Peach ice cream sandwich.  I wouldn’t know.  Don’t want it melting all over my hands.  Spending the day on the grounds while being well nourished and hydrated shouldn’t run you more than twenty dollars unless you choose to grab a few cold beers.  Just be careful if you’re camping out at Amen Corner while having one too many.  That walk back to the car park might be a challenge. It’s a steep hill leading up to the clubhouse.

Things are a bit more expensive in the merchandise venues.  But the logo is alluring.  It’s on everything you can imagine.  The best value in the place is likely a Masters portable seat for thirty-five dollars.  Throw in a cap plus a polo and your credit card shouldn’t be too burdened.

While there is technology everywhere surrounding the daily proceedings, none of it is visible except perhaps when you swipe your credit card.  Phones are not allowed on property, a refreshing separation from the outside world.  Phone banks are provided in certain areas in case you want to call your buddy and rub it in that you’re at Augusta.  Trust me, it’s not worth your time.  You can text him when you get back to the car.  The massive white scoreboards are easy targets to keep up with the action.  If you grabbed a starting sheet, are familiar with the routing and can decipher a birdie outburst from an eagle roar you know what the players are doing.  Patrons will also murmur about their interpretations regarding the cheers.

Yet the one thing the committee has not figured out is how to convey up to date scoring to the patrons.  The leader boards can track up to fifteen players or so but how can you keep track of a favorite player who may not be in the mix?  Friday afternoon has to be equally frustrating to the patrons camped out at Amen Corner wondering who made the cut.  That info could be available on a phone but there are none allowed on the grounds.  I agree with the policy.  Keep the phones out.  But what can be done to keep the patrons informed?

The things that make this tournament interesting for me are the behind the scenes stories such as those involving amateur participants, first time players, past champions, up and coming stars or maybe even a friend caddying in the event.  I want to know how they’re doing.  Will they make the weekend?  Did they put up some respectable scores?  Who made the hole in one?  It would be nice to take that all in while sitting down at Amen Corner.

I imagine I’m not the only patron to raise this issue.  It would be an important part of the overall Masters experience.  As i said previously, the green jackets don’t miss much when it comes to hosting what many believe is the best of the major championships.  A solution escapes me at the moment.  Do you place scoring kiosks at various locations on the course?  I hate the thought of scattering TV’s or video boards around the place.  It’s important to maintain the balance between old school and new age.

Hopefully a solution is imminent.  There are plenty of resources at that club off Washington Road.  Perhaps Chairman Ridley is looking into this issue as we speak.  I imagine one day there will be a device incorporated into the badge that will allow a patron to scroll through the scores.  Perhaps that day will come next year.

Regardless, the patron experience continues to define itself as one of the finest in golf if not all of sport.  Yet there is that one little thing…