Local Man Beats the Odds and Lands Job at The Masters
Football has the Super Bowl, baseball has the World Series, horse racing has the Kentucky Derby, but only golf has The Masters. It was immortalized when golf commentator Jim Nantz stated that the golf tournament was “A tradition unlike any other” and he could not be closer to the truth. Teeming in history and unerringly faithful to tradition, Augusta National Golf Club is host to the greatest event in the game of golf.
Augusta National Golf Club opened in December 1932 in Augusta, Georgia on a 365-acre tract of land previously known as Fruitland Nurseries. According to the “History of Augusta National Golf Club,” founding member and President in Perpetuity Bobby Jones said upon seeing the property, “Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course on it.”
The nursery imported trees and plants from countries around the world which exist to this day on the course. Each hole on the course is named for a particular plant and that plant can be found in abundance on and around its namesake hole. What the original members created was an incredible golf course which rewards a well-played ball, penalizes a poorly played ball and whose beauty is breathtaking. The only thing harder to find than a blade of grass out of place is a ticket to The Masters. Demand is so high that it isn't uncommon to apply for over 10 years before securing tickets.
For the average golf fan, Augusta National Golf Club is a course seen from the eyes of a television camera lens displaying stately magnolia trees and brilliant azalea bushes surrounding plush fairways and manicured greens. In person, it is all of that and so much more. Patrons are treated as honored guests by the members and every amenity is available. Everything on the grounds is first-class. Everyone is welcome, but cellphones are not. Every effort is made to maximize the beauty and enjoyment of the grounds and tournament for the patrons without undo distractions. It takes an incredible number of employees to achieve near-perfection for the week of The Masters and those fortunate enough to be invited to participate rarely give up those positions.
The original reactions were disbelief, then excitement, when a call came from Augusta that my name had been submitted for nomination to be eligible to apply for a security position at Augusta National Golf Club for The Masters. Really? There’s a chance of going to The Masters? Thankfully, there was only a two-week lapse before another call came advising that an application would be coming in an email. Even with 30 years of law enforcement experience, the caller advised that there are sometimes over a thousand applications for every open position. Applications followed and were promptly completed. One month passed, then another. By this time the excitement had turned to doubt, until the email came that said “Welcome to the team.”
Requests followed for employment forms, uniform sizes, dietary requests and instructions on lodging and transportation. With the uncertainty over, it was just a matter of surviving a two-month wait. The instructions stated that orientation and training would be on the Friday before The Masters, followed by The Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday; Drive, Chip and Putt on Sunday; practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday; the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday; and The Masters on Thursday through Sunday.
Further instruction was to expect 12-hour work days, rain or shine. Orientation and training went without a hitch, but everyone was talking about the weather. The daily assignment was to start working the North Gate entrance at 6 a.m, then moving out to the course in the afternoon. Goosebumps prevailed when the gates opened at 7 a.m. and the patrons’ smiles were returned with “Welcome to Augusta National Golf Club.” Saturday turned out to be a good experience for the week ahead as play was suspended for three hours due to weather.
It was amazing to be a part of moving more than 40,000 patrons off of the grounds in an orderly fashion and then back in again.
Standing at No.16 green watching the players skip balls off the water and seeing three holes-in-one in 30 minutes during the Par 3 Contest are two favored memories. The best memory was on Sunday working the rope line for every player leaving the course and entering the scoring cabin. The week exceeded all expectations.