The Masters is timeless.
First played in 1934, this is the 81st playing of the tournament founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and the wall to wall perfection of…..well, just everything, never changes. Or does it?
Things don’t so much change here in this leafy corner of Georgia as evolve. The course has evolved over the years – it is 500 yards longer than a mere ten years ago – the year Rory McIlroy turned pro – and judicious tweaking and planting on this erstwhile nursery land means that, despite appearances, nothing really ever does stand still.
Well, this almost imperceptible advancement has gone completely out of the window for 2017. Just ask the members of the media! Since we left here 12 months ago a brand new Press Building has arisen out of the land at the end of Berckmans Road looking more like a 7-star hotel than a facility for assorted print, television, radio and digital media. There is a state-of the-art working arena and interview room where each seat features a hands-free microphone for questions.
The entrance is dominated by a soaring atrium and staircase with wall-mounted widescreen televisions ensuring not a single shot or interview is missed. There are sound booths aplenty, suites for television, radio and photographers, locker rooms and a full service restaurant as well as a “grab and go”, faster option.
How did they manage it? Well, we ordinary mortals know how long it takes to organise a new kitchen and bathroom at home, but three consecutive shifts of eight hours for nine straight months does tend to get a lot done.
One of my favourite touches is the wonderfully curved ceiling in the restaurant, a nod to the first press building at Augusta National – the Quonsett hut from which Dai Davies, my late brother-in-law, sent the first of his reports from some 35 Masters tournaments.
The next media centre, which remained in use until last year, was like Mission Control in Houston and was Patricia’s base for her 15 Masters tournaments or so. Unlike the rest of us she doesn’t keep count!
And here am I, now, working on my third Masters, in the newly named Press Building, and open-mouthed at the working conditions I am enjoying this week.
And I just love the wonderful old photographs, a stunning pictorial history of the Masters, that line the walls.
Hard though it may be to believe but the perfection you see on your television screens each year is now mirrored INSIDE the Press Building. There are copious lockers and cubby holes for all the untidy paraphernalia, cables, electronic devices and whatnot that we all travel with nowadays. Why, each wastepaper basket has its own discreet housing so even the rubbish is tidy!
So, timeless? Yes. Standing still? Absolutely not!