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The Patrons Caddy Gives a New Perspective on the Masters Tournament

Fourteen years ago, Chris Rigby’s life course changed with a single email.

“You’re gonna owe me for the rest of your life,” read the subject line.

The email was from Rigby’s brother, a retail broker. One of his clients had given him two tickets to the Masters, yet he couldn’t go, as his first child was soon to be born. He transferred the tickets to Rigby, and so began the makings of something great around the greatest game ever played.

Rigby, a Toronto native who spent years on Wall Street as an institutional equity trader, had long been an avid golfer. But getting the chance to  experience what he calls “the No. 1 event in the world for golf”—the Masters Tournament, held every April at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club—for the first time in 2004 sparked an idea for an opportunity combining business with his passion.

Chris Rigby, in red in the middle, with a past group of The Patrons Caddy.

Chris Rigby, in red in the middle, with a past group of The Patrons Caddy.

He founded The Patrons Caddy, a company that organizes one-of-a-kind curated trips to the Masters, to give others the chance at the same kind of experience. With tournament badges notoriously hard to come by, for many, booking one of Rigby’s packages is the only way they can soak up the Technicolor hues of the famous azaleas on hole 13 in person. 

It comes at a price, of course. The first package, which includes access to practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, starts around $2,000; the highest tier, including the final round on Sunday, is priced around $8,000. Everything can be customized to a guest’s preferences, and each program is capped at 24 people.

Access to the tournament, while the selling point of The Patrons Caddy, is only the beginning. The reason Rigby’s company is so popular is that it creates a total experience for the guest—and even better, all they have to do is show up. Rigby arranges for a driver to meet them at the Augusta Airport (or Atlanta or Charlotte, for a higher fee) and transports them in style to a luxury home, which he’s rented from a local skipping town for the week. Dinner is prepared by a personal chef in the home, complete with appetizers and cocktail hour. The following two days, the sequence of luxury car pickup, tournament, dinner at home is repeated. On the departure day, Rigby also arranges for guests to play a round of golf at a nearby high-end course, such as Reynolds Plantation.

“I’m a perfectionist, but something like this has to be perfect,” says Rigby. “I’d been dreaming about [going to the Masters] forever, and some people have been waiting on this for a lot longer. I try to provide the experience that everyone gets inside the gates on the outside.”

He’s referring to the extremely unique nature of the Masters, the only tournament with no big corporate tents and no cell phones allowed—plus $1.50 pimento-cheese sandwiches and $3 logoless beers.

“It puts everyone on an equal playing field,” says Rigby.

Of course, the lack of cell phones makes the logistics of coordinating seats and making sure guests are in the right place at the right time much more complicated.

“When you have 50,000 people leaving the gates and they can’t find their ride, it gets really hairy. But we’ve got that all down to a science now,” says Rigby, who counts on a team of about 20 people in Augusta during Masters week to make it all happen.

Yet he’s still the one doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes. Up before dawn, Rigby heads to the course to place all the chairs for his guests. His team—which includes everyone from students to doctors to housewives, who work for The Patrons Caddy one week a year—create maps for guests to help them find their seats. Rigby runs the website and does all his own marketing, and even helps guests book their flights.

He hasn’t looked back since he left Wall Street, though he’s thankful his time there lined his pockets so he hasn’t had to work another full-time role since. During the spring, Rigby focuses on The Patrons Caddy. He spends another six months of the year traveling the world—a lifestyle that works for the bachelor, whose only repeat stomping ground is the perennial ryegrass of the Augusta National fairways.

It’s all worth it for the human connection, he says, and the joy of creating a bucket-list-worthy experience that most wouldn’t have the means of creating on their own.

“I had two gentleman out of Vancouver last year. When they sat down on hole 12, they had tears coming down,” says Rigby. “It’s that emotional; that spectacular. They’ll remember that forever.”