Mastering The Details (and Why it Matters)

How to Flourish During this Season

Happy mid-April to you and yours! I’m still feeling a sense of awe, inspiration and frankly a little silly after returning from the 2023 Masters Tournament. It was my first time going…you’re probably wondering what took me so long? I was privileged to attend my first Masters with some amazing PGA professionals who kindly acted as guides for me. Their names included Brett, Sara, Carl, Chris, James and Tim. Thanks to all of you for “showing me the way.”

As we were sitting in the grandstand behind the 12th tee on Wednesday of Master’s Week, Tim (aka The Ultimate Patron) asked me: “What are you most blown away by after your first day at Augusta National?” While that is a simple and open-ended question, it’s also very tough to respond to in a complete way. At the time, I did my best, but after several days, here’s a more complete answer:

  • The Execution of the Details | Truly, I have been to several Tour events, including majors put on by other associations, but this is different. It’s clear that the Masters operates fully in the kaizen concept (kaizen: a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement of working practices, personal efficiency, etc.) .In talking with “my team of guides” they said the incremental improvements are everywhere.
    • A key part of this execution is how they “protect tradition and culture, but still innovate and improve.” One other place that I experienced this of late is here in our PNW backyard at Roche Harbor Resort.The Concession Stands | Besides the price of the food and beverage being incredibly reasonable, the quality and presentation of it is equally good…and the trip through concessions is “unlike any other venue.” It’s fast, even where there are lines.The Merchandise Experience | Of course, it’s the Masters and the gear is incredible and not found anywhere else, so there are lines. As you’re queued up outside, you may be lined up for 100 yards before going inside to a line that moves you to the place where you are free to shop. Inside, the staged queueing area may be another 50 yards of back and forth. Just before you get to “go for it,” the process makes you wait one last time. They are managing the number of shoppers on the floor so you can actually shop and move around when it’s “your turn.” Further, it’s clear that every year they look for ways to improve not only the variety and quality of their merchandise, they look for ways to improve and speed up the shopping process too. Shirts and hats are displayed on “big boards” with numbers near them so you can walk up and say, “Can I have a #17 in Medium, or a #8 in X-Large?” Overall, it’s a wow in so many ways including operationally.
    • The Restrooms | Not a “honey pot” in sight is the first thing to point out, and again they’ve thought about “line management” and cleanliness. Each location has its own crew that are clearly coached up to be positive, to add in memorable ways to the experience (even in this necessary and unglamorous activity that is part of any experience).
  • The Communication | Every part of their communication is purpose built and driven. They have signage placed right where you seem to need it, right when the question comes into your head. A few examples include:
    • Why You Can’t Take Your Phone to The Masters | It’s the only place where you can’t have your cell phone, even on practice rounds. People ask “what time is it” when they see you have a watch…I saw digital SLR cameras and even digital cameras from the 2000s on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wow, talk about retro! Once you get over having to be without your phone, one is suddenly reminded of why ANGC seems like “golf heaven” where one is forced to focus on things that are natural, relational and tangible (rather than digital).
      • Note: there are at least three locations with banks of “old-school” touch tone phones where patrons can make free long-distance calls to friends, family, etc.
      The Eleven Iron Giants (aka Leaderboards) | Keeping patrons up to date in “near real time.” Paying attention to these and how they operate is fun. As players come through on #3, you’ll see the current Top 10, but also that specific group “Thru 2” and as they move off the green, the next group is cued up on the backside so after a quick flip, you can see they’re standing in just mere moments. In a world of digital scoring and phones at our fingertips, these “iron giants” somehow manage to be “really cool, really effective and oozing with tradition.”The Masters App and digital platform is simply best in class. Period.
    • The Masters YouTube channel is an experience that rivals any other sporting event channel. On this channel, they present interviews, highlights of special Masters locations (e.g. Butler Cabin) and more. They also have “every single” series for an entire round for a given player, every eagle and similar. They also present across multiple languages including Japanese, Spanish and English.
  • The thoughtfulness and consideration for the details | In retrospect, it’s clear that event organizers take incremental improvement (and sometimes massive ones) very seriously. I learned from a CMAA member (who runs a branded suite at Berckman’s Place, the hospitality suite at the Masters, as a volunteer for two weeks a year), that after every event they ask for ways to improve the overall operation, or their specific activity area. All feedback is welcome. And, in two other locations, there are locations for a “patron survey” where they ask for ways to improve the experience. I understand this is how white wine became an offering on the menu, for example.

So, you may be wondering, how does this apply to me and/or my facility? Clearly, we don’t have an unlimited amount of funds in our budgets, or a list of professionals looking to volunteer their services and time to help us prep for and deliver our events, but we can seek to learn from this too.

For example, ask yourself, your staff, your board, your committee chairs the following questions and courageously answer them with honesty.

  • How are we doing with the details in our “execution” of this specific event?
    • Does our execution anticipate potential curveballs and issues so we can easily pivot when required?
    • Does our staff training and engagement hold up under the pressure of the event?
  • How are we doing with the details in our “communication” with members/customers/clients for this specific event?
    • Does our communication style align with our intended branding and similar? At the Masters, even the chip bags, packaging for the BBQ pork sandwich and similar seem to match the branding. With digital tools like Canva, Photoshop and even Publisher, you can do this too.
    • Is our communication timely and appropriately timed to promote the event and drive participation?
  • How are we doing at “asking for ways to improve” following our key events at the facility? Do you use free resources like Google Forms (just need a Gmail account to use) to ask for key feedback on your event(s), programming, on your recent improvements, etc?

With that in mind, I would love to be a resource for you and your facility to see how you can have the audacity to audit/review/evaluate every facet of your operation and organization. While it’s true that none of us can be “The Masters,” it is true that we can have a growth mindset that seeks out incremental improvements that drive the “Patron Experience” for those who call our facility their home for golf, their home for community or even their home for work/employment.

I don’t plan on missing a Masters in the coming years if I can help it…and, I hope to see you there too. (Thanks again to Brett, Sara, Carl, Chris, James and Tim for the invite and opportunity to experience The Masters with you!)

As of April 1, I am happy to say that I am going to be focused as the PGA Career Consultant for the PNWPGA Section and no longer the Regional Director for the West Region. After doing both roles for the past year, I was given the opportunity to do the one that 1) fits my “professional why” the best and 2) allows me to focus my time and energy where it affords me the highest level of professional job satisfaction and 3) is actually better for my family in the long run. I am grateful to Scott Kmiec, Sr Director of PGA Career Services and to Frank Talarico, PNWPGA Section CEO for both being key supporters for me in this move “back to what is best for me” and hopefully for the members, associates and employers in the Section (I care the most about).

Monte Koch, PGA Certified Professional, CEIP
PGA of America | Career C​oach & Consultant​/Certified Interview Coach
Certified Predictive Index Practitioner​
[email protected]

Based in South King County, WA

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