By Larry Fine
AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - The lords of the Masters are dedicated to putting on an ideal golf tournament, and most of the competitors and thousands of patrons judge it to be just about perfect.
An on-course bank of tablets by the 15th hole is used for feedback, but an informal survey by Reuters of over 50 patrons allowed spectators a chance to utilize a verbal suggestion box to air any pet peeves.
What the survey reveals is, it is hard to improve on perfection.
With one of the most coveted tickets in all of sport in hand, few could find fault in the Masters' experience beyond nit-picky, minor improvements.
"I would appreciate an organic option for food or gluten free option," Carol Fread of Noblesville, Indiana, said near the concession stand off the eighth fairway.
"I’ve got some dietary restrictions so I’m trying to work around what they have. But I love the carrots. Perfect."
Air quality was also a talking point, with some objecting to the pungent smell of cigar smoke obscuring the aroma of azaleas and magnolias.
"Cigars. It was my number one 30 years ago and it’s still my number one," said veteran Masters patron Tommy Drew of Virginia Beach, Virginia. "It’s still nasty."
Another patron provided a counterpoint.
"The only thing I couldn’t find was a cigar butt receptacle," said Riki Patel of Savannah, Georgia.
The sprawling, hilly Augusta National layout is meticulously maintained by an army of attendants and finding a cigarette butt or scrap of paper can be as difficult as finding buried treasure on the beach with a metal detector.
Masters members have suggestions of their own on how to improve the club and most are multi-million dollar ideas.
Over the years the club has been stretched, practice facilities and housing cabins have been built, and dozens of neighborhood homes bought as it looks to grow its boundaries.
The city recently approved a $16.7 million project to allow for the widening and rerouting of Berckmans Road, which borders Augusta National, to improve traffic flow and move it away from the club.
Plans also call for an upgrade in the beautification of the vast, free parking lots.
"It will look appropriately as though it belongs inside the fences of Augusta National," club chairman Billy Payne said.
Patrons inside at this year's Master, had a more narrow focus on possible improvements.
"If a guy's worn out and he’s down here and has to get all the way to 18, maybe they could allow some of these golf carts to ride them up there to the top of the hill," said Augusta native Don, who declined to give his last name. He said he has been coming to the tournament for some 40 years.
"I know yesterday I’d have paid $50, I was so tired.”
Carol Roberts of Gainesville, Florida, suggested "a little tram that would support the elderly, the handicapped and many more people could be able to experience it."
Avid golfer Malcolm Parks of Augusta said being on the grounds made him keen to swing a club.
"What would be exciting is if you could set up an indoor range with a projector screen where you could actually play one or two of the holes, maybe Amen Corner," he said by the 11th fairway.
Several patrons said they would like to see others enabled to share the experience.
"A lottery for tickets for people who are interested in golf, kids that can’t afford to get in here," said Mauricio Bueno of Bogota, Colombia.
Said Floridian Jim Martin: "They should hold more than one event a year. It’s a shame that we can only come and enjoy this place seven days of the entire year.”
(Editing by Frank Pingue)