Mostly, it’s a place designed to separate you from your disposable income (not entirely unlike some churches in that sense).Only Augusta National really puts the sacred before the profane. This place is above the tawdry concerns of the real world, most of which is coarse and uncouth. At Augusta National, they’ve somehow turned golf – their particular brand of it, at least – into a belief system.Once you succumb to that idea, money loses meaning. God bless the Masters. Unlike a lot of the geriatrics on the Augusta members’ list, he really fills out a green jacket.“As proud as we are of this building, it’s just bricks and mortar,” he said to the mob of journos. Might that change soon, in line with other tournaments?“You’ll have to ask the next chairman. It contains a working “arena” straight out of NASA Mission Control that looks over the driving range through 30-foot windows. It isn’t growing a business. It is maintaining a monument. Any one of this “cream of the crop” that puts ripples in the Masters’ pool is made to feel they’ve been boorish.Someone tossed up a rhetorical pebble by asking Payne his thoughts on the character of U.S. It’s the largesse of the pharaohs.Despite what one must assume is its immense profitability, Augusta National operates on communist principles. You are the best at your job.”Nobody actually sighed, but a lot of people looked close. In the year between the last Masters and the one beginning on Thursday, they built a new media centre at Augusta National.The last one was perfectly fine. It’s a pilgrimage site.Anyone willing to obey the rules and bend a knee is welcome to come in and worship. It has a full-service, white-linen-tablecloth restaurant, in which all food and drink is free. It’ll take some digging.The remarks ended with, “God bless you. And so that they can use it to awe the little people, which include some of the richest athletes alive. “My God, this is a big room.”Why did they build it? Every arena of a certain vintage is a “temple,” a “church” or the “Mecca” of football/baseball/hockey/what-have-you. Security guards collected cellphones at the door.(Later, Payne was asked about the Masters’ ruthlessly enforced ban on any electronic device that emits noise. “It’s you that makes the difference. It was quite definitely the last question of the news conference.The subtext was clear – the Masters exists not only as a geographic feature, but also as a state of mind. A pair of cleaners spend hours each day cleaning and recleaning those windows in tandem, one shammying the outside while the other polishes inside.It has a full locker room complete with showers. That’s not going to change while I’m chairman.”Can you explain why?“Not really.”)Payne launched into a long, often touching remembrance of Arnold Palmer. We can’t know for sure because Augusta National does not reduce itself to the gaucherie of talking dollar figures, or just about anything else to do with the club’s inner workings.During a rain delay on Wednesday, former champion Adam Scott wandered in to gawk at the main arena while everyone gawked at him.“This is a big room,” Scott said to no one in particular while spinning slowly in place. Try to find a critical word ever written about this place. There’s an interview room built along United Nations Security Council lines. And God bless America.”Heatley is from New Zealand.A short while later, down in the interview room, club chairman Billy Payne gave his opening statement. Whether you choose to believe, it is difficult not to admire the commitment. Because they have the money and they can. … You are the cream of the crop. No outfit in all of sports – or, really, any other cultural endeavour – has deployed a more successful media agit-prop operation than this one. The opulence becomes akin to a jewel in the pope’s crown – there to signal regality rather than wealth.Every major sport embraces the descriptive trappings of religion. President Donald Trump and his close association with golf. Why anyone would get up from his or her desk in the middle of a workday to take a long, relaxing soak was presumably not discussed.This place – which has no other purpose than to house journalists during the Masters and will be shuttered 51 weeks of the year – apparently cost about $60-million (U.S.). It sits dark now.Upon approach, the new one resembles the White House, in both size and grandeur. The chairman shifted uncomfortably and pretended to misunderstand the question.But didn’t he once have a lot to say about Tiger Woods’s sexual extracurriculars and how they reflected on the Masters?Payne stiffened, and the rest of us stiffened as a result: “I’m not the one to judge how [Trump’s] other remarks may have some influence on the game of golf, which is where my interests reside exclusively.”It wasn’t much of an answer. It was perhaps the most commodious press box in all of sports. The tone was so hagiographical, you half-expected him to whip out a shinbone for adoration as a holy relic. It is a cult of personality in which the focus of worship is the place itself.This oddly red tendency includes an element of indoctrination.Also on Wednesday, the member charged with handling the media, Craig Heatley, dropped by the media arena for a pep talk. All that was missing was a hands-up “Hallelujah!” But underneath the schmaltz and exaggerated gentility, there is a wide streak of reactive establishmentarianism. Better than that, actually. The ideal is constant progress willfully ignorant of cost. Heatley is a vastly wealthy business titan of stentorian bearing.