The Masters Stays Authentic By Turning Down Millions
In its 83rd year, the Masters remains in a league of its own.
When it comes to sporting events, it doesn’t get any classier than the Masters Tournament at Augusta National. And compared to its over-commercialized peers, like The Super Bowl and the World Series, the prestigious event—which is now in its 81st year—stands out more than ever. (Seriously, that beloved pimento cheese sandwich is still just $1.50.)
Aside from the mystery, romance and spectacle of the golf tournament, what drives spectators back in droves year after year to the Masters, is the air of authenticity and integrity that surrounds it. That and the delicious, and affordable food.
So just how unique is the Masters nowadays? An in-depth investigation into the tournament published in Golf Digest in 2015 provides some insight. Spoiler alert: it will make you love it even more.
Most interesting is how every year the Masters rakes in heaps of money—currently, its profits are upwards of $30 million—but turns its back on even more. “By banning corporate logos, and limiting the amount of spectators within the ropes, the Masters is perhaps the last major sporting event left where the emphasis is solely on the game,” the author, Ron Sirak, writes.
And those aren’t the only instances where the tournament’s organizers leave money on the table. This year, the price of daily tickets clocks in at a relatively modest $100 a pop, while tickets to this year’s Super Bowl averaged in the thousands of dollars, each. We have no doubt that people would pay whatever it takes to be there on that green, but still the prices remain low.
But the biggest pile of money they walk away from, however, is in domestic broadcasting rights. CBS basically breaks even on their one-year-contract with the Masters, but the prestige alone makes it worth it for the network. “For Augusta National, the trade-off for the one-year contracts and for walking away from such a cash windfall is that the club has complete control over how its event is portrayed on TV,” explains Sirak.
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And as for the money they do make? A lot of it goes right back into the course, and the game of golf as a whole.
"I think we, perhaps at Augusta, measure success, the future of the game a little bit differently," chairman Bill Payne explained in 2015. "We don't do it in numbers. We don't do it in definable, ascertainable arithmetic growth rates. We measure it in smiles on the faces of these kids. If we can create that here, see it by extension go to others, then we are very happy with the current state of the game of golf."