For many fans, the first men's major of the year is so eagerly anticipated because of their familiarity with the tournament's tradition and the pomp and ceremony associated but The Masters committee at Augusta should never be seen as one that lets grass grow under its feet.
So much of the discussion on changes to the venue has, in the past, been on the lengthening and debatable improvement of the layout itself but, in the last two years, major facility changes away from the course will ensure an even greater Masters experience for visiting fans, those watching from afar and any media lucky enough to be there.
A purpose-built ‘state of the art’ Media Centre, replacing its earlier version of 26 years, was opened for the 2017 staging of the Masters and for those who have experienced such a wide range of facilities at tournaments worldwide, many may well have felt they had died and gone to media heaven.
Media Centre: the working area is a journo's dream (Courtesy of Augusta National)
Leather seats, television screens and scoring monitors in each work cubicle are a good start for any journalist looking to focus on their task but that is only part of the luxurious comfort and ease which Augusta National has recognised as being necessary in order for coverage of their event to match the quality of the golf.
Indoor and outdoor (balcony) dining facilities, huge screens, a large and welcoming entry area, lockers and showers and an interview room, second to none, with a high-tech broadcast studio incorporated are all designed to provide the most enjoyable environment for the hundreds of golfing media on site.
In 2018, another addition will enhance the experience for ‘patrons’ as the tournament prefers to call its attendees.
The pressure on previous merchandising facilities has been obvious as the large crowds who flock to Augusta National look to identify the fact that they ‘were there’ or alternatively look to take home plenty of souvenirs for friends and family.
A new purpose-built Merchandising Shop was created in less than 9 months and some 64 cash registers give some idea of its scale.
Merchandising Shop - Augusta National
Huge television screens and a seating area allow those who have battled the fairways to escape to relative comfort and perhaps buy a memento at the same time.
Some 125 different styles and colours of hats give an idea of the numbers involved; over the next few days, one hat will reportedly be sold every second.
Garments of all shapes, size and colours are also on offer and one can only imagine the total amount spent on merchandise throughout the course of the 2018 Masters.
A visit to the 'Mecca' of tournament golf is a bucket list item on that of any golfer or, for that matter, golf journalist.
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