How Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ spinoff convinced Augusta National to open its doors
If you think getting on the grounds at Augusta National is hard, try bringing a camera, too.
The famed Masters host is … autocratic in its policing of technological devices. Should security be faced with the indignity of finding a prohibited item on your person, you’ll be stopped promptly at the gates. And if you’re discovered with an illicit item on the premises? Well, it’s right there in bold, red letters on the Masters’ official website:
“VIOLATION OF THESE POLICIES WILL SUBJECT THE TICKET HOLDER TO REMOVAL FROM THE GROUNDS AND THE TICKET PURCHASER TO THE PERMANENT LOSS OF CREDENTIALS (TICKETS).“
In fact, the only folks who are allowed on-site with a camera on tournament days are the fine people at CBS and ESPN — who are responsible for capturing the event for television — and a smattering of credentialed photographers.
It’s not difficult to imagine, given this information, the response that Netflix producer Chad Mumm expected when he approached Augusta National with the idea of shooting a fly-on-the-wall television series on the grounds during Masters week.
But Mumm had to ask anyway. He and his crew were in the early stages of creating a golf-centered spinoff of the uber-popular “Drive to Survive” docuseries, and they’d attracted Netflix’s attention. But, as Mumm explained in a recent interview with “No Laying Up“, the streaming giant’s interest came with one condition.
“For Netflix, they were like, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do the ultimate version,” he said. “They said, if you can get the majors to sign up, this is going to happen. And so we did.”
Now, as those within the sport will tell you, it’s not easy to coalesce golf’s stakeholders behind a lunch menu, much less providing unfettered access to an editorially independent TV series.
Still, Mumm reached out to the governing bodies behind all four majors, and was surprised to find Augusta National eager to return his call.
“To their credit, we met with people from all the majors, and Augusta was the first to say yes,” he said. “They got it right out of the gate. They said, ‘yeah, we get it, we understand it.’ They had already met box-to-box with [Drive to Survive executive producer Paul Martin]. Once Augusta said, ‘hey, we’re in for this,’ the ball started rolling a lot faster.”
Mumm attributes much of Augusta National’s friendliness to the PGA Tour, which he credits for signaling to the rest of the golf’s stakeholders that the show held significant potential for the sport.
“The Tour was willing to make it not a Tour thing, and they saw that too. That spoke volumes without us even having to pitch it,” Mumm said. “No, no, no. This is golf. This is a year in golf. And we’re going to do what’s best for the show, and not necessarily what’s best for the Tour, because we know that if we do it right and tell the right story, it’s going to be a success for everybody.”
Ultimately, it was a success at least for Mumm and co., whose cameras won’t only be allowed at next week’s Masters, they’ll be welcomed.
“There was no holdout,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to PGA of America, the USGA, the R&A, nobody had to be convinced that this was a good idea.”
To hear the rest of Mumm’s No Laying Up interview, including his hopes for the show and the round of golf with Jay Monahan that sealed the deal with the PGA Tour, click here.