It’s the Monday after the Masters and although many other tournaments provide similar theater, none are able to capture the essence of Augusta National’s Masters magic. By the time you read this article there will have been hundreds of reactions, posts, segments filmed and recaps run. There’s no doubt Matsuyama’s masterpiece will impact the game globally, but in order to really appreciate his victory, let’s just think about how his opportunity came to be.

Bobby Jones’ resume in competitive golf is almost second to none. With all of his success on the course, his most enduring legacy is probably positioned at the end of Magnolia Lane. As one of the co-founders of Augusta National Golf Club, Jones believed there were a couple principles that would define this hallowed ground. Today our total focus in golf is on the men’s and women’s professional game. For the past two weeks, we have been treated to some wonderful amateur golf. 

Beginning with the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, followed by the Drive, Chip and Putt finals and then finally the amateur invites for the Masters. Clifford Roberts, along with Jones, built ANGC to represent the game. The entire game. Who could have ever guessed nearly 90 years later their club and membership holds one of the most significant leadership roles in all of global golf? We are reminded every April how important all competitive levels of play are in the game. 

The most successful institutions and corporations in the world have very powerful values. These pillars guide their decision making on a daily basis. Whether it’s Disney or Apple, one experience with that company and you know what they believe in. When you consider our annual engagement with Augusta National each spring, there’s no doubt the original intent of Jones and Roberts is still the fabric of this great landscape.

Amateur golf will always have a prominent place in Augusta, Georgia. In watching the 2021 Masters tournament, it’s amazing how prominent of a role it really is. As the weekend unfolded, that one specific guiding tenet taught us why the Masters is so very special. 

In 1976, Fred Ridley stood on the first tee of ANGC. As the reigning US Amateur Champion, he was paired with 1975 Masters Champion Jack Nicklaus. Yes, the same Fred Ridley who is now the Chairman of ANGC and a successful lawyer. Jones, a lawyer by trade and the greatest male amateur who ever lived, would be smiling from ear to ear knowing Ridley leads ANGC. 

Hideki Matsuyama played in his first Masters back in 2011. He qualified for the tournament by winning the Asia Pacific Amateur. At a time when professional golf seized the main stage in the early 2000’s, Chairman Billy Payne remained steadfast in his Augusta National beliefs. He decided to make an enormous impact on the international game by supporting amateur golf in Asian and Latin American countries. The winners of each amateur championship respectively, would receive an invite to play in the Masters.   

In 2011, Matsuyama won the Low Amateur honors at the Masters and finished tied for 27th. He returned the following year again as the APA Championship winner and finished tied for 54th.  That’s a pretty good start in this tournament as a young amateur player. If not for Payne’s promise to keep the spirit of Jones’ mission ongoing, who knows how the 2021 Masters would have turned out. 

The Masters Tournament is special because in an age where the words “obligation” and “values” make some cringe, the men and women of Augusta National maintain a level of perspective not commonly seen or experienced. It’s an amazing blend of taking tradition and combining it with a true spirit of innovation. Holding true to Jones’ amateur mission is important, but look how their leadership has not only evolved that principle, but benefited from it. Congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama for an outstanding performance and congratulations to Fred Ridley for leading a brilliant tournament. 

Considering the circumstances and the fact the entire world was watching, not bad for a couple of amateurs. 

Keith Stewart

Keith Stewart is a PGA Professional and storyteller. He has built a unique marketplace perspective through two decades in the golf industry. As a professional, he has worked at many prestigious clubs on the east coast, most notably, Isleworth Country Club from 1998 to 2003, home to Tiger Woods at the time. Currently, Keith uses his talent as the host of the ProShow on ESPN radio across the New York City market. His expertise in the industry blended with a comedic pop-culture filter entertains his listeners. He's a 5-time award winning PGA Professional who brings credibility to any discussion covering the world of sports. Keith resides in Hopewell, NJ with his wife Laurie and their two kids Owen and Abbey. He's a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and an avid golfer.