by Pete Deutschman, Chief Buddy
Last week I had the privilege to partake in the unique and nearly religious experience that is Augusta National’s Masters Tournament, as a lucky attendee for one of golf’s finest moments. For this self-admitted “golfaholic”, walking through the club’s gates in Augusta meant one less item on my bucket list. Little did I know that both my perspective on the sport I love so much would forever be changed, along with my digital perspective.
Walking down the first fairway, I heard my first roar of the gallery indicating an epic putt. Chills ran up my spine and my adrenaline began to flow. I had watched this event on TV growing up and more intently in years past, but nothing could compare to the beauty that I was witnessing first hand at each turn of the course. With so many digitally connected, golfaholic friends across the country, a few profound tweets and several boastful check-ins at the acclaimed Amen Corner would normally be apropos for moments such as this. But, as rule one on the Prohibited Items board states, no “cell phones, beepers, electronic devices” are allowed inside the gates.
This was like the equivalent of being told to go without water. I’m CEO of a digital engagement agency. No electronic devices?
As someone who is never more than three feet from an Internet connected device, the separation proved to be as eye opening as the tournament itself. Besides not being able to mindlessly see others’ Facebook statuses or news feeds, I wasn’t able to check my work email — allowing for a completely analog day. (No talk of how big Pinterest has grown was quite refreshing I must admit.)
It forced me to appreciate my surroundings and talk to other golfaholics participating in the Georgia pilgrimage who, like me, were fighting off the shakes of living a day without being connected.
Analog vs. Digital
Ironic as it is, the Masters.com website and associated mobile applications are the most impressive sporting engagement initiatives I have seen: boasting five live streams, swappable picture-in-picture and an interactive leaderboard so slick it makes me wonder what we did without it. The Masters fully embraced analog inside their hallowed arena, and fully embraced digital outside.
Evolution Is A Fragile Word When Discussing Tradition
If you follow the history of the Masters, you know it is a tournament of heritage, history and prestige. Despite being overshadowed by the operational decision to not accept women members (IBM’s CEO is rightfully taking a stand and I most definitely support her), I take my hat off to the Members of Augusta responsible for the week of the event itself and for protecting the brand and golf history with precision and majestic artistry. From the iconic yellow logo to the Master’s green Jacket and every meticulous fairway in between, this event is proof that tradition doesn’t have to mean stale. Some have said that being at The Masters is like going back in time. In addition to not having a cell phone, The Masters encouraged the use of cash by offering 1970s prices on food and beverages with $1.50 sandwiches and $1.50 drinks. You won’t find Coke or Coors for sale, rather Masters has adopted its own brand of chips, beer and soda. The entrepreneur in me appreciates this and the temptation that must be presented on an annual basis to accept sponsorship and ad revenue in exchange for carrying the product. Their stance reinforces the prestige of the event by simply saying this event is a staple in sports not a commercial sell-out.
Risk vs. Reward
Despite the introduction of high-definition broadcasts and 3-D cameras, nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace seeing the course in person. One’s perspective on the holes and appreciation for the difficulty of each and every fairway, green and bunker is amplified once you finally walk the course. Like running a business, the most careful planning can’t account for the errant shot or poor decision. After seeing amateur Cantlay (UCLA Sophomore) practice on the back 9 it dawned on me that like business, golf is about risk vs. reward. The golfer has to make real time decisions based on the cards that are dealt and weigh, also in real time, risk vs. reward. Is it better to try and hit the shot that is 1 in 100 for a chance to tie the match or stick with a conservative shot that keeps me in the match but one can hit with my eyes closed. As entrepreneurs thrive on these risks and know that the decisions are what makes heroes heroes and everyone else…players.
Emotion Plays A Part
Ever hear the phrase “There is no room for emotion in business”? I have always thought that was ridiculous. Emotion drives business. Emotion is what fuels passion and the desire to succeed. Making emotional decisions may result in clouded choices so successful entrepreneurs (like golfers) need to learn to keep the emotion in-check. This year’s Masters winner Bubba Watson has gained notoriety for his recent efforts toward emotion management. His hard work paid off as this year’s final hole came to a successful finish. In his own words he “visualized the shot” and had the confidence to save a failed first shot with a brilliant hook out of the woods. You hear that fellow entrepreneurs? Have the confidence. Listen to your gut and visualize success. Then, when you execute, let your emotions show!
As the annual event comes to a close and the Green Jacket is placed on yet another champion, this entrepreneur is forever changed by the analog experience that is The Masters. And, I’m prepared to let my emotions show. Right, Bubba?