The Money Behind the 2021 Masters Golf Tournament

·5 min read

The Masters teed off Thursday morning with its typically small field of just 88 golfers—roughly 60 fewer than the other three major championships. It marks the return of spectators to Augusta National Golf Club and a return to its usual April slot after the 2020 version was held in November, due to the pandemic, sans patrons (you’ll find no common “fans” on this course).

Don’t expect packed galleries racing through the famous azaleas, though. The club is not commenting on crowd sizes, but the typical attendance of 40,000 to 50,000 is expected to be limited to player entourages and those with ties to Augusta National members and tournament sponsors, or more like 8,000.

The tournament starts six days after Major League Baseball pulled its All-Star Game from Atlanta over Georgia’s controversial new voting law.

“I believe, as does everyone in our organization, that the right to vote is fundamental in our democratic society,” said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley Wednesday in his pre-tournament press conference. “We realize that views and opinions on this law differ, and there have been calls for boycotts and other punitive measures. Unfortunately, those actions often impose the greatest burdens on the most vulnerable in our society. And in this case, that includes our friends and neighbors here in Augusta, who are the very focus of the positive difference we are trying to make.”

Augusta National has found itself in the crosshairs of social issues before, most famously over its refusal to admit women as members. The event went commercial-free in 2003 and 2004 to alleviate pressure on sponsors. The club ultimately admitted its first female members, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, in 2012.

The Masters operates unlike just about any other professional sporting event in the world, in that maximizing revenue seems like an afterthought. Concession prices are dirt cheap; sponsor signage is largely absent from the grounds; and the valuable TV rights, which typically draw the sport’s biggest audiences of the year, don’t go out for bid, but instead reside on CBS—its home since 1956—under annual one-year contracts. Event sponsors AT&T, IBM and Mercedes pony up roughly $8 million each toward CBS’ production costs.

Here is a look at some of the most interesting numbers—financial and otherwise—surrounding the 2021 event.

$1.50: The famed Augusta National pimento cheese sandwich is just $1.50 for patrons, same as the egg salad. Coffee ($1.50), water ($2), beer ($4, $5 for an import) and all other concession choices are a fraction of what you’ll pay at another marquee sporting event.

4: Masters sponsors get a scant four minutes of commercial time per hour, 25% of the typical ad deluge.

9-1: Defending champion Dustin Johnson, who shot a tournament-record -20 in 2020, is the betting favorite, according to William Hill. Next in line are Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas at 10-1, along with 2020 U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau at 11-1.

18: Number of former champions in the 2021 field, including four multi-time winners: Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jose Maria Olazabal and Bernhard Langer.

37: The pandemic postponement of the tournament slashed April tax revenue of Augusta Richmond County by 37%. The county’s tax revenue jumped in the fall, including 10% in December, as Georgia became Ground Zero in the fight for control of the U.S. Senate.

$115: Face value of a day pass for the lucky few Masters ticket lottery winners. Most first-time attendees need to turn to the secondary market for entry, where daily tickets can top $2,000 in a regular year and climb as high as $10,000 for the weekly badge.

$2,354: The Masters sometimes feels like it is stuck in the 1950s, but organizers are embracing one modern trend this year: fantasy sports, via the free-to-play Masters Fantasy competition in partnership with IBM. The grand prize is valued at $2,354 and includes a flag signed by the tourney champ, leather golf bag and a dozen other pieces of swag.

Ridley also announced Wednesday that the course will be part of the Electronic Arts’ revived EA Sports: PGA Tour franchise.

4,000-1: Ian Woosnam has the longest odds to win this year. The 63-year-old Welshman won the 1991 Masters and has been invited back every year since, as is tradition for the tournament.

$6,000: The ultimate VIP spot at Augusta National for guests is Berckmans Place, off the fifth fairway. It features several restaurants, a gift shop and TVs everywhere. It opened fully in 2013 and is invite-only with a reported entry cost of $6,000.

$70,000: Cost of the 365-acre Fruitland Nurseries property that was purchased in 1931 for Augusta National. Bobby Jones co-founded the club and designed the course that opened a year later. The first Masters was held in 1934.

$2.07 million: Johnson’s winner’s check for the 2020 Masters matched the 2019 payout for champion Tiger Woods. Augusta National has not released the 2021 prize money, but it is expected to equal last year’s purse.

$9.5 million: Record career prize money won at 23 Masters—including five wins—by Woods, who will miss the event as he recuperates from injuries sustained in his February car accident. His total career PGA prize money is $121 million, $28 million ahead of Mickelson.

$11.5 million: The total Masters purse in 2020, as well as the expected total in 2021.

15.4 million: Final round viewership for Woods’ 2019 victory was the tournament’s highest since 2010. It plummeted to 5.6 million last year going head-to-head with an NFL Sunday.

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