By Cole Cathcart.
On a blustery South Carolina Thursday morning, my father, my brother, and I piled into our car. The sleepy part of South Carolina where we were staying was bustling with activity. That morning, we were using a few of the most coveted tickets in sports, with family ownership tracing back to my Great Grandfather. After a chilly day at the Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club, our family left the tournament. However, we did not intend to return to our hotel across the Georgia-South Carolina state line. Instead, we plowed into the magnificent suburbia of Augusta, Georgia to visit friends. When we drove through the suburbs we were not only visiting friends, but we were also venturing into an aspect of The Masters seldom spoken of – the corporate power generated by and around the Masters Tournament.
Every year during the Masters Golf Tournament, thousands of exceptional Augusta homes are vacated in an extraordinary feat of corporate power. Families simply leave their homes and regular lives for the week of the tournament and reside in other homes. At a hefty price, the homes are rented out not only to players but also to thousands of employees of corporate sponsors. IBM, AT&T, and Mercedes-Benz are the tournament’s major sponsors, thus most homes are rented by these companies. Entire neighborhoods are rented out for one company. In order to have a large representation of employees in attendance, rare Masters tickets and a week’s stay in an Augusta home are provided to the employees. All of this is accomplished in a unique combined effort between the club and major corporate powers. According to the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, four nights in a five-room home could cost as much as ten thousand dollars. The length to which sponsoring companies go to have their name represented at golf’s biggest event is incredible.
Another great feat of this annual tournament is what Augusta National does with the capital it receives. Augusta National Golf Club is elusive for never disclosing how much money it makes and how much it spends. In the past year alone, however, the club has spent millions of untold dollars upgrading and building new facilities. These include the construction of a massive press building, the rerouting of an entire street (Old Berkman’s Road) and the building of a bridge, where there was a road previously, allowing patrons to pass with. Each of these massive projects was completed in less than a year. Such improvements are merely local projects for the Club. The Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, Billy Payne, has taken steps to grow the game globally as well. He was at the forefront, in 2013, when the “Drive Chip and Putt Foundation” was founded. This successful attempt to promote the game allowed junior golfers across the United States to compete and rise to the final trials at the Club. Forces at Augusta National also worked to grow the game on an International level. In 2009, with the help of the Augusta National Golf Club, the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship was established. Each year, the winner of this amateur tournament is invited to compete in the Masters Tournament.
In a time where headlines are filled with the negativities of corporate greed and misconduct, Augusta National and its sponsors have used the power of The Masters to promote the game of golf worldwide. Nearly every golf tournament (worldwide) looks to Augusta National Golf Club as a model of not only a beautiful course but a flawless display of logistical power. Patrons of the Masters, like my family and I, simply enjoy the beauty of the golf course and the excitement of the tournament. Seldom spoken of, however, are the hundreds of people working behind the scenes to improve some things much bigger.
Featured Image: (The logo for the Masters Tournament made of flowers, in front of the clubhouse of the Augusta National Golf Club.) This image was originally posted to Flickr by Torrey Wiley. The image has been licensed for fair use by the creator under the Creative Commons license – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). No changes were made.