Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne held the traditional Masters Wednesday news conference. (April 6, 2011 / WRDW-TV)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, April 6, 2011
AUGUSTA---Yesterday's storm took something away from Augusta National that won't be easy to replace. That was one of the many topics of Chairman Billy Payne's Masters Wednesday news conference.
Payne said it was a huge effort to get everything cleared up before the patrons and golfers arrived yesterday. The storm left a mess, bringing down several big trees just hours before the gates were supposed to open.
"We began assessing the damage immediately," Payne said. "Within less than an hour we had hundreds of people out here, not only assessing but already beginning the cleanup."
One of the trees lost was one of the majestic magnolias that line Magnolia Lane.
"We are all very much saddened by that," Payne said. "We will make the best of a difficult situation."
How do you replace a piece of history?
"Well, I should say we don't know yet," Payne said. "150-year-old magnolias are in short supply for transplanting."
The chairman also had a lot to say about how the Masters is embracing technology, starting with its website, which boasts high definition video and real-time scoring.
"But this year we have added groundbreaking enhancements, with up to nine live video feeds and some truly amazing beauty sequences showcasing Augusta National at its best," Payne said.
But technology only goes so far at Augusta National. Remember, they still run the course scoreboards by hand. Don't look for anything electronic anytime soon.
"I don't think, at least in my tenure--you're not going to see any video boards or those kind of things out there," Payne said.
The Augusta National chairman also talked about giving more people a shot at seeing one of the Tournament days for themselves by accepting applications online.
"But I will tell you, we already get hundreds of thousands of requests the old simple mail-it-in way," he said. "It's not a real good chance, but it's a chance."
But hey, millions of people around the world are just glad to have a shot at seeing the Masters for themselves. You can fill out an application on Masters.com.