Golf courses are generally thought to be very safe working environments. This is true at Augusta National Golf Club course except for one single day of the year — the day after the Masters Tournament when the course is turned over for play to the members of the worldwide press.
They have spent the entire week covering the tournament. Then this course becomes a real hazard. Why, you may ask? Because among these reporters are some of the worst golfers on the planet!
At Augusta National there is a press building not far from the No. 1 fairway (It may have been moved since the time I was there). From it these dedicated journalists from all over the world, each one in his own language, report to the folks back home the day-to-day happenings of the Masters Tournament. These are the people who write about the Masters starting with two days of practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday and the Par 3 Tournament on Wednesday.
Play begins on Thursday so for the four days of the tournament the players on this beautiful, green stage are followed and written about by these sports journalists. And remember, there are lots of them from countries all around the globe. Of course this is just one group of reporters. There are also the folks involved with following this tournament with the television cameras.
All of us take television for granted. I had no idea how widespread and involved this coverage was until one day some weeks before the Masters two of us were sent down to an area behind Ike’s Pond to bring back some sand. It had been stockpiled right in the middle of the paved road.
This was an area of the club grounds where I had never been before. Our scooter drove from the clubhouse and down the road behind Ike’s Cabin. The dam for the lake had a road across it and over this dam our scooter went with the springtime air blowing in our faces. Because of the trees one could not see what was up this road. When we got to the other side and rounded the curve, what came into view was amazing, at least it was to me.
A circle of small buildings and trailers came into view right in front of us. But it was not the buildings that were so interesting. They were quite plain and were probably constructed by the two full-time carpenters on the club staff. What caught my attention were the signs on them.
There was one with Turner Broadcasting on it, another for the BBC and still another for a Japanese Television Network. If I remember correctly, there was even a German Television Network along with many other foreign stations.
It was in seeing this small area that I suddenly realized just how far reaching Bobby Jones’ tournament had become. My buddy and I got the sand and returned with it to our work for the day.
Now this was before the Masters began. During the Masters another job took us back into this area, only now there were people everywhere and big television relay antennae all over the place. This place behind Ike’s Pond had become a crowded, miniature city, and in many ways like the United Nations with its mix of folks from all around the world.
It was then that I thought to myself that there was a really useful aspect to this tournament — focusing the world’s attention on the game of golf instead of all the world’s many problems. Then Augusta National becomes far more than just a club for the wealthy.
Think about it. For one week of the year this tournament focuses worldwide attention on a gentleman’s game played by specific rules.
On this green stage the world’s best players compete. It takes only a small step to compare this with our society in which the people as well as nations live in harmony because all live by a set of laws. You might say that all those members in the green jackets for one week of the year are ambassadors to the world.
This must certainly play an important role in the World Peace Process simply because it takes so many people’s minds off of their problems and disagreements and focuses their attention on golf. One could make a case for the same thing when the Olympic Games are held.