Lessons Learned At The Masters

Originally Published in Materials Management & Distribution Magazine

Just a few weeks ago my Dad and I were fortunate to attend our 10th Masters Golf tournament together. It was a lifelong dream to get there, and 10 years ago we were able to make it happen. The experience was so much fun and such a great father/son trip that we both decided we would keep doing this as long as we are both healthy and strong.

With my Dad now 88 years young, it’s truly a blessing that we can still make the pilgrimage to the year’s first major golfing event and enjoy springtime in the South.

As golf enthusiasts, it’s impossible not to love every minute of the experience. Watching the greatest players in the world – often from just a few feet away – and experiencing the impeccable conditioning and beauty of the golf course is truly amazing. But aside from the actual competition and the venue on which it’s staged, there’s lots to be learned from the event.

The Masters, which is run by the Augusta National Golf Club, has become the gold standard as a brand delivering a golf tournament. Regarded as one of the best-organized sporting events on the globe, this reputation has been earned thanks to multitudes of small decisions – each one aimed at enhancing the experience of those attending and continually reinforcing the brand. Whether it’s the advertisements that come out well in advance of the tournament with the unmistakable music, or the on-course experience, they are stamped with Masters Tradition and impeccable attention to detail.

The tournament’s organizers are also determined to deliver great value to their patrons. And, by the way, attendees are not “customers,” but are referred to as “patrons” and respected at every turn. From receiving free parking that is extremely well organized (what other sporting event can boast that?), to concessions offering food and beverage at well below market prices, to washroom facilities that you might expect to find in a fine hotel, there is simply no part of the day that doesn’t deliver value above and beyond expectations. While the face value of the ticket is well below typical sporting events, many attendees are willing to pay premium prices, and even they feel they received great value for their Masters experience.

One cannot help but notice how extremely well organized the event is in terms of logistics, especially the movement of thousands of people in and around the grounds. Years of experience and planning have allowed for patrons to enjoy maximum time watching golf and minimal time in lineups, whether for parking, washrooms or concessions. It’s also clearly evident that all staff members (thousands are brought on for one week of temporary work) receive outstanding training and are also clearly hired for their outgoing personalities and willingness to engage with the patrons.

We all know this doesn’t happen by accident and is the result of many hours of careful planning. They also understand that they are ultimately in the entertainment business and, believe me, they put on a fantastic show.

While the Augusta National Golf Club does not release numbers with respect to the patrons attending or revenue earned by holding the Masters Tournament, it is generally believed that it does very well financially – all while delivering an experience that allows patrons of all income levels to attend, many of whom receive tickets through an annual lottery. The organizers seem determined to keep up the tradition of encouraging the average golf fan to stay interested, and, in fact, make the Masters Pilgrimage one of their bucket-list items. It’s no surprise that the course has all kinds of kids in attendance with their parents. What better way to grow the game (and a market) than facilitating great sporting memories with parents and their offspring?

I always come away with an appreciation for how important it is to deliver value, continually build on the best aspects of a brand, make sure staff are expertly trained, and measure everything by the customer’s experience.

Of course, more than that it’s just amazing to be able to sit behind the 16th green in the warm afternoon sun late on a Friday afternoon with your Dad, eating a famous egg salad sandwich, sipping on sweet tea and watching golf history being made, one shot at a time. The first time we ever sat in “our spot” we watched Ian Poulter make an ace. Masters magic and history made. Thanks, Dad, for all the years enjoying the greatest game. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

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