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  • Writer's pictureDillon George

The Everlasting Effect of the Masters

By: Dillon George and Joe Koch

April 24, 2024

Photo Credit: ESPN Press Room

“A tradition unlike any other”. Every April, The Masters comes around as one of the premier sporting events showcasing the top golfers throughout the world. Held at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, the exclusivity and uniqueness of the tournament leads to an enormous economic impact that benefits the city, broadcasts, and the game of golf itself. 

The Masters, despite being only one week a year, has resulted in tremendous success in every aspect. Masters Week averages about 250,000 patrons (not called fans), with tickets averaging up to $3,000 per day and upwards of $10,000 for a four-day pass. Hospitality isn’t cheap either, with a mix of hotels and houses being fully booked. On average, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house will be rented out for $8,500 for one week alone (Henssler Financial). Hotels, similarly, range up to $500/night on average.

Merchandise at the Masters also has a great impact on the golf club. Unlike other tournaments, Masters merchandise can only be purchased at the local clubhouses on the course. Merchandise alone averages roughly $1 million worth of sales every hour, scaling to be over $100 million throughout the entire week. For fans, an extra incentive to buy merchandise is that the Masters will ship it directly to your house, free of cost. If customers don’t have to worry about finding where to put all their new apparel, this creates more interest as it is completely hassle free. This year, the Masters debuted a new, premium venue: “Map and Flag”. Map and Flag is the first hospitality venue the Masters has had outside Augusta National, and it sold out tickets within the first few hours of release. Being an instant success, Map and Flag will most likely not be the last external hospitality venue they unveil in the future. 

Food prices are a little different, however. Unlike the high ticket prices, you can get sandwiches for as low as $1.50. This has been a tradition of the Masters, where maintaining consistent prices of the product has led to a driving culture and consumer demand of going to the tournament. Being so distinguished, the Masters doesn’t care about the prices people pay, they care about the rich history behind themselves. 

Another unique aspect of the Masters is their broadcast, as ESPN and CBS Sports don’t pay a single penny in order to stream the most prestigious golf event of the year. Media rights are easily one of the highest revenue drivers in professional sports - some estimate that the Masters could earn over 100 million dollars annually for their rights (Sportico). So why forgo a huge revenue generating opportunity? 

The answer, like many surrounding the event, is prestige. An hour watching the top golfers in the world will only be interrupted by 4 minutes of ads, roughly a quarter of the normal time with other sports events, and half what a regular broadcast may run. If you noticed repetition during these time slots as well, you’re right. These ads are only available to the Masters’ three patterns: IBM, Mercedes Benz, and AT&T, who do pay almost a quarter million dollars for that opportunity. Commentators like Jim Nance and the great, recently retired, Verne Lundquist also have to follow specific Masters jargon: spectators must be referred to as “patrons,” the rough as the “second cut,” and there must not be any talk of shirt sponsors or the $18 million purse. These rules essentially act as the “payment” for ESPN and CBS - they may get to broadcast for free, but the Masters continues to mold their unique tradition for fans.  

The broadcast in and of itself is special - most notably, the absence of phones and the presence of nature sounds. No cellphones are allowed at Augusta National Golf Club - if patrons need to contact loved ones, there are free payphone stations to do so. This creates an unplugged, authentic environment that is heightened by sounds of birds chirping pumped into the broadcast. 

All in all, this tradition truly is unlike any other. Nothing in all of global sporting events, let alone within the PGA tour, can come close to the hype, prestige, and intimacy of a Sunday at the Masters. It can be safe to say that not a single “patron” has left Augusta National unsatisfied. In a time of increased fusion between consumerism, gambling, and more within sports media, it’s a breath of fresh air to tune in line to the Masters each year for yet another unforgettable tournament.


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