Dean's Corner News

Business Lessons from the Masters and Augusta National

Dean Richard Franza’s column appeared in the April 9 edition of the Augusta Chronicle. The post can be viewed here.

On Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to attend the groundbreaking of a new community campus in downtown Augusta. At the site in Harrisburg, which is owned by the MCG Foundation (of which I am a board member), the Boys and Girls Clubs’ new regional headquarters will be built with a 25,000-square-foot community center that will offer health care, nutrition guidance, literacy services and workforce development. 

The funding of these buildings comes from a $10 million gift from Augusta National Golf Club and three of its corporate partners – AT&T, Bank of America and IBM. The purpose of this gift, in the words Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley, is to “promote generational change” and “uplift these underserved communities.” 

This is but one more way that Augusta National and the Masters set an outstanding example for businesses and organizations to follow.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I have written about the Masters and Augusta National a few times in the almost four years I have been writing this column. While many of us might sometimes take for granted that the Masters and Augusta National are in our backyard, we should not take for granted the things that they do that businesses can emulate. Here are some of those things:

Being true to your brand: Basically, a brand is a company’s identity. Such an identity is formed by customers who come in contact with a company or organization and its products and services. It tells customers who the company or organization is and how it differentiates itself from its competitors. For a company to be successful, it has to be true to its brand, and no one is truer to its brand than the Masters and Augusta National. Their brand is one that encompasses quality, class and tradition that is found in everything it does.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.

High quality is found everywhere at the Masters and the National. Of the four major championships of men’s golf, the Masters has the most selective and highest quality field. While the other three major championships have fields of more than 150 players, the Masters field is usually between 90 and 100 players who are invited based on select criteria.

In addition to the quality of the field, the quality of the golf course and the grounds cannot be beat. Anyone who has played golf dreams of playing at the National. The first time I walked on the course in April 1989 was a breathtaking experience. The beauty of the course is spectacular, and there is never a blade of grass or anything else out of place. Even the limited number of partner sponsors of the Masters and its broadcast are among the highest quality companies.

Class and tradition also are evident all around the Masters and the National. The attendees are called patrons. Patrons are not permitted to run on the grounds or behave inappropriately, and electronic devices are not allowed, providing an environment of class. 

Traditions such as the green jacket; the Champions Dinner; the caddie jumpsuits; the family environment of the Par-3 Contest; and honorary starters, which includes Lee Elder along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player this year, all add to an overwhelming sense of class and tradition. As businesses and organizations, we can all look to the Masters and the National to show us how to be true to our brand, which helps lead to organizational success.

Excellent customer experience/service and value: All businesses should focus on their customers’ experience and providing them excellent service and value to be successful. Everything done at the Masters and by the National is done with the focus on excellent patron (customer) experience, outstanding patron service and patron value. I mentioned the beauty of the grounds, the behavior of the patrons and lack of electronic devices.

Great customer service is pervasive throughout the grounds, starting with the helpful staff at the pro shop and throughout the grounds with the friendly staff and efficient processes at the concessions and restrooms. They even make sure that what you buy at the pro shop can be picked up at the end of your day or shipped home, making your day on the course better without having to carry around what you have bought. 

Finally, the low prices at the concessions provide you a great value beyond the outstanding experience you have.

Serving community and society: Finally, businesses can learn from the Masters and the National in terms of investing and contributing to their local community and society in general. Both have quietly invested millions of dollars in the Augusta area for many years through the Community Foundation, which is now making a more visible contribution through its investment in the city’s Harrisburg and Laney-Walker neighborhoods that started with the groundbreaking Tuesday. 

Beyond this local investment, the Masters and the National also have invested in women and children and in growing golf through its Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt, providing opportunities that might not otherwise be available. All business and organizations will flourish more if their local communities and society in general also are flourishing.

The Masters Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club are certainly gifts to those of us in Augusta most every April. However, for businesses and organizations, they also provide year-round role models to promote business, community, and societal success.