Final Masters Question: Will Growing The Game Initiatives Expose The Club To Unwanted Scrutiny?

masterslogo.gifOkay we've chewed on this rag enough, but one last topic related to the Masters worth considering: the club's global golf initiative.

Ron Sirak writes that it's "all of it is good" when talk turns to the job Billy Payne is doing.

Whether it's allowing children in for free, switching the cable coverage to ESPN or permitting TV audiences to see the Wednesday Par 3 Contest, Payne has made it clear he wants Augusta National, already a quasi-governing body of the game, to play a more active role in growing the game. Which brings us to Payne's biggest challenge: carrying out the balancing act between progress and tradition.

We saw signs last week that their desire to grow the game, while no doubt well-intentioned, may open up the club to unwanted scrutiny.

The most obvious example came during last week's press conference, where Chairman Payne was soaking up the love for letting in children of patrons free. It opened the door for a somewhat embarrassing question about the club's policy toward female members.

Now, I can sympathize with the side insisting that Augusta National is a private club and can do as they please. But if you are out touting your desire to help inspire the youth to take up golf, don't you have to set a certain example?

The same questions will apply to the golf course and tournament as well. How can you grow the game when you are giving us 5:37 threesomes and five hour twosomes on Sunday, thanks to course changes that have eliminated options and put a stranglehold on the world's best?

I suspect this is only the beginning. The harder the club pushes its global growth initiative, the tougher the questions will get about the U.S. Open style setup, the tree planting, the second cut, the pace of play, and even the idea of letting kids run around on the Par 3 course damaging greens.

But probably more alarming for members, I suspect Payne's initiative will only increase the questions about the club's finances and membership policies.

So is this growing the game initiative really "all good"?

Seems to me it's a high risk endeavor with little reward for the club.