In about the same distance Tiger Woods plays the Augusta National Golf Club, site of this month's Masters Tournament, he could stroll to Pratt-Dudley Builders Supply in downtown Augusta. It was founded in 1935, just four years after the tournament, by Pratt's father. Here's how this $5 million yard navigates LBM's hazards.

Mark Pratt Photo: Peter Frank Edwards Keeping Score. If you're alive today, you're living on gross margin. My daily report tells what fell below the minimum. Perhaps you'll find something was defective. Perhaps you purchased higher-cost merchandise without knowing it. I want to know why.

Setting the Handicap. We do a monthly P&L. We compare to the same month last year ...[but] you have to throw out 2006 and 2007, basically. Things were just so abnormally high then–just too hot.

Club Selection. Commercial used to be 15% of our business. Now it's 35%. But commercial didn't pick up; it's the home builder that left. I thank my lucky stars I didn't take my cash registers out.

Tee Time. During Masters week itself, business is slow because a lot of local people take vacations and rent their houses. Schools close. [It's also] like homecoming; you have kids come back and mooch your tickets. In a typical year, when people are spending money, they're sprucing up their houses for the rental, and then they have that little fortune that came in [from rentals] for home improvements.

Making the Cut. Now, it's all about survival ... and I plan to stay here. It's coming back to management basics. Volume hid a lot of ills, and the graveyard is full of the ones who forgot the basics.

Craig Webb