obby has gone to work the Masters Tournament for the past three years. Every time, he came back home completely and 100% exhausted. We would talk on the phone at night during those stretches and he mostly sounded like a zombie. Sometimes he got sick because of the lack of sleep and intensity of the work days. It sounded miserable on every account to this sensible wife. Yet he always wanted to do it again the next year.
This year, with a more flexible schedule, I was ready to jump into the madness with him and see for myself. What was so alluring about working this tournament?
Bobby’s dad, Rob, drove down to Augusta and took Graham with him for the week. Little Graham was with his grahamparents and got to go with Rob and Gini to school everyday. It couldn’t have been a better situation (endless thanks, you two!).
Meanwhile, back in Augusta, Bobby and I got to work. We were lucky enough to work in the same space – Berckmans Place – which is this GORGEOUS building they only open up for one week a year. It’s already tough to get tickets to attend the Masters at all. It’s way harder to get tickets to Berckmans. I was a cashier along with a team of 6 other ladies and Bobby was on the sales floor. He got to wink at me during slow times. It was pretty great.
After attending one day of training and orientation, we got to work – for 8 straight days. Here is what our schedule looked like…
The work was fast and furious. Streams of people came through the shop, all eager to buy merchandise to commemorate their trip or purchase gifts for friends. Sometimes we would go for THREE HOURS straight – 5 registers/tablets ringing people up, 2 of us wrapping shirts and carefully placing things in totes – without a single break in the line. I’ve never appreciated people in retail more. Especially those people who smile at you and cheerfully engage in conversation like you’re the first person they’ve seen all day. Retail workers with smiles on your faces, I’m your biggest fan!
I started to come up with sound bytes for different conversations, based upon where the patron was from – I had my conversation for someone from Boston (“Wow, you all deserve a medal for the winter you’ve been through! I have a good friend from Boston who says it was so defeating because you’d make it through one storm just to see another one waiting in the wings…”), for someone from Houston (“Oh, cool! I used to be a teacher in New Orleans and had a lot of kids who had family back in Houston.”), for someone from Atlanta (“Oh nice, so you’re just a hop down the road!”)…trust me, I had my go-to conversation for nearly every place on the planet. By the end of the week, some of the girls I was working with honestly had my personal story memorized. They could spout it off on command, having overheard it so many times over the course of 100s of transactions at the register.
(Hopefully it’s obvious, but we’re illustrated there as golf clubs. It only makes sense.)
Of course, the amazing part of all of this was that I met SO many wonderful people from ALL over the world. Many of them talked about this being a “bucket list” experience and simply beamed about the amazing days they’d had. They commented on the world-class service and all the energetic employees. Some people dream about coming to the Masters for years and years – I was so proud to be a small part of their experience once they had finally made it.
And during our 30 minute lunch break, Bobby and I would hustle out to the course, grab a quick sandwich, and go watch some golf. WE WATCHED GOLF AT THE MASTERS. I finally got it. It was unlike any golf tournament I’ve ever been to (not that I’ve attended that many, honestly). First off, everything really is impeccable. Augusta National was built on a former plant nursery, so there are beautiful trees and walkways everywhere. Even in real life, it looks like the course has been photoshopped – they don’t just magically make it look that way on TV with editing. The azaleas really are that vibrant, the grass really is that well manicured. The crowds really are that dramatic, getting totally silent for the putt and then cheering loudly when it sinks into the hole or gasping when it comes close but just misses. THIS is the way to do golf, people.
I ignored ALL other life things for eight days. Cell phones weren’t allowed on the grounds, so I would have multiple text messages and missed calls when we finally got back to our hotel room. And I was so dead-tired that I had no energy to respond to them. (So, apologies if that happened to you. You weren’t alone!) Basically, this was me at the end of each day:
*That number is slightly exaggerated. I have not become that big of a mogul yet.
(Tangential, but adorable story: on Sunday, after Jordan Spieth had secured his victory, I was finally able to call my family and catch up. After talking for a bit, my 10 year-old brother William wanted to get on the phone. “Tell Bobby that I was cheering him on and I’m disappointed in him that he didn’t win!” he piped over the phone. I laughed and said I’d be sure to pass along the message. The next day, my mom texted me and said, “So, I didn’t realize it when William said that last night, but he was totally serious. He thought Bobby had been playing in the tournament and he was super confused and thrown off when I tried to explain otherwise.” Bobby is a total stud in my little brother’s mind, which is just as it should be.)
By mid-week, my body was completely rebelling. I think everyone on our team felt that way. Talking about our sore feet was a pretty regular piece of conversation. Some people got swollen ankles. A few of us wondered aloud if this was what it’s like to be pregnant – we were assured by a wonderful colleague named Brenda that even being 9 months pregnant was not as taxing as this. (Hi, Brenda – you’re the best!)
I definitely hit a wall of delirium by day 5 or 6. Every day felt like Groundhog Day.
But guys. For some reason, the whole week was also SO fun. It was the complete opposite of how my days have been this winter in Miami – I had interaction with people for nearly every hour of the day, I was working on a team again, constantly on my feet learning new things, I got to be with Bobby for an uninterrupted 264 hours. The leadership team at Augusta was top-notch and I felt so appreciated and motivated the whole time. I made a ton of new friends. I got to cheer, “Go Jordan!” as he walked by and am pretty positive that my enthusiasm helped his victory…
I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder in my entire life, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I finally get it.
The Masters Tournament. It’s everything it is cracked up to be and more. Get yourself there if you ever have the chance!