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Sunday
Mar152015

Just How Much Does Augusta National Make Masters Week?

...Or to put it less delicately, how much money does Augusta National net annually to allow them to constantly upgrade facilities, offer fair ticket prices and keep their telecast the most watchable by a longshot, all while tucking away a few Benjamins to some day do some much-needed tree relocation work (The Ghost of Bobby Jones can always dream, right)?

For the first time since 1997, Ron Sirak and Golf Digest attempt to tabulate just how much the Masters brings in and what the club ultimately nets. As always, I urge you to hit the link or read your hard copy to see the then-and-now numbers, but a few points worth noting...

In all, the Masters will generate about $115 million in revenue this year, according to Golf Digest reporting, more than a five-fold increase from the $22 million the magazine estimated in 1997 for the previous year's Masters.

Astoundingly, Sirak says that is without getting carried away with ticket prices or taking more than a 65% markup on merchandise or taking in real television rights money, the club still does incredibly well.

"After the Masters, CBS sends an invoice to Augusta National, and they check it out and get the money from their corporate partners to cover production costs," says the source.

That means that IBM, AT&T and Mercedes-Benz pay about $6 million to $8 million each in exchange for four minutes of advertising time per hour—about one-third of the commercial interruptions of other sporting events. Rolex and UPS are the corporate partners for the international broadcast. "If they ever opened up the [domestic TV] bidding, it would absolutely be worth more than the U.S. Open, but that's never going to happen," said the source, referring to the $93-million-a-year, 12-year deal the USGA signed with Fox Sports in 2013. "There was talk back when the Masters went without sponsors during the Martha Burk controversy [2003-'04] that it might go to pay-per-view," the source said. "If they did, they could get $100 for the weekend and get two million to three million buys. Do the math on that. But they're never going to leave CBS."

Oh charge 'em a little Mr. Payne. The nine CSI's are raking in big bucks.

Those estimates would bring net revenue to $48.4 million. Even if Augusta National paid the highest tax rate of 39.6 percent, the tax bill would be $19.2 million, leaving a profit of $29.2 million (versus $7 million in the 1997 Golf Digest report).

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Reader Comments (17)

That television agreement is very interesting.
The article doesn't address revenue from membership (initiation fees, dues) which may not be material. Nevertheless, the yearly fees and dues and the amount they hold in reserve would be of interest to me.

====

I was puzzled about one statement in the story. In reference to the high price of black market badges/tickets:

"Those prices have grabbed the attention of Augusta National officials, and they're doing something about it. "They're buying up weekly badges on the black market, then dividing them into daily badges." said a source familiar with the brisk secondary business . . ."

If the "they" who are buying up weekly badges on the black market (at incredibly inflated prices) are AGNC, how is the club doing something to change the black market business? Unless the club is taking the divided-into-daily badges and selling them at even higher prices (doubtful, unless to corporate visitors). Either that or AGN is taking a substantial loss buying out the black market. To what purpose?
03.16.2015 | Unregistered Commentergov. lepetomane
Like gov. I'd be fascinated to know what the annual subs for members are and how much that raises. This account rather gives the lie to the suggestion that as as private club ANGC's membership policies were a matter for them alone - it seems to be primarily a major golf tournament venue and general golf fundraising and administrative body with a small private club attached.

Re the badges, unless I missed something the article does not tell us whether they are legally transferable - for example Wimbledon debenture seats are fully transferable and holders can sell individual day tickets or re-sell en bloc. One would imagine that if the tickets were issued on the basis that they were non-transferable ANGC would know who was selling them stop such sales with the usual efficiency.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered Commenterbs
Isn't Sirak concerned he could lose his media credentials?
03.16.2015 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Since no one associated with the Masters--officials, members, CBS execs, announcers, sponsors, etc. will speak about the finances this is just educated guesswork. I'd love to see meida grill Billy Payne on this subject during is pre-tournament presser.

Always a Q how much tournament revenue subsidizes the course grooming, reducing cost for members.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterMedia Driven
Back during the Hootie-Martha disagreement, IIRC Hootie was asked how long the Masters could last without commercials (on CBS). Indefinitely was his reply. But really, this has about as much chance of being off less than 50% off as the CIA's Kremlinology based on who stood where on Lenin's Tomb during the May Day Parade of 1974. One thing is certain though. The Masters is the only Major that doesn't gouge it's patrons.

Re Badges, based on what my local peeps with tickets say, ANGC doesn't mind if you sell them to friends for face value. However, if your friends act the fool by ANGC standards and have the badges confiscated, that's it. Gone forever. The secondary market is a puzzlement. Lucrative though.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
I wish they would go pay for view now. Give me a different channel for each group on the course, allowing me to be the director. If I wanted to follow a player all 18 holes I could do so without having to watch Tiger hit every shot. I'd pay a C note easy for that. I am talented enough with a remote to watch 3 simultaneous games during March Madness, think of how easy it would be to follow golf. No commercials or watching players tap in 1 footers. They could also do the CBS thing for people that don't want to pay or be their own director. Win / win with more money for upgrades....

Del and I could watch Scott Harvey, who is having a great spring by the way.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterConvert
Good on them, they have a great product, I enjoy it very much and I hope they continue to do very well with it. What internal membership dues etc contribute to the overall is none of our business.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
I think Augusta isn't known for it's revenue from members, either initiations, dues, or staying at the cabins. I don't think they charge Trump-esque 500K member fees.

I'm more curious about expenses. I've read stories about how they cool or heat the azaleas so they are in perfect bloom for that week we are all watching.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterThe O
@Convert - I have to say that in the past, the Masters iOS app and website offered some good alternate channels. And the Masters app scoreboard is worth using a digital tablet to display all by itself.

In fact, it's time to download the app for the iPads, now.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterLA John
Ice packed around the azaleas during an increasingly earlier spring has to be an urban legend. The landscape staff has the course in seasonal bloom for the members from opening in early fall to closing in late spring. If the azaleas and dogwood peak during the fist full week of April, so much the better. The sometimes reviled, sometimes loved Jenkins had a long article (in GD?) about a visit to the Club with Hord Hardin back in the day, in which much of this was covered. Including, delicately, that dues and fees are very low for members, period. Not just low for Masters of the Universe.

What LA John says about the Masters.com apps for following Amen Corner, 15-16, and featured groups. Excellent coverage with good commentary.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
For what it is worth, I say the $115 M in Gross Revenues is understated...........
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterPro from Dover
How about Augusta National gives some handouts to the people in Augusta, GA once in a while? I think everyone there deserves some money too
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterGolfboy
So Sirak is reporting there is no "rights fee'' per se between CBS and the Masters? I've seen it everywhere from $1 M to $5 M IIRC in previous reports, from John Steinbreder and John Feinstein.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterTee vee troller
"Media Driven," you don't need to wait to hear the media grill Billy Payne on Augusta Nationals finances. Here's the real answer and you'll probably hear it again this year: "The business of the Augusta National Golf Club is private and we don't discuss those matters in public."

As for the initiation fee, a few years ago I heard it was around $25,000 if you can believe that.

Me? I'm wondering if club member and real estate lawyer Fred Ridley will be around again this year to reinvent rules decisions on the spot that favor major draws.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered Commenterbenseattle
Interesting question for sure. I'm gonna go with post 1st round algorithm for projected cut score guess.

Take Sirak's final number, double it, and minus 1 (million)

They got a great thing going and I remember from college days that the cheapest bottle beer deal in Augusta all week is on the ANGC grounds. The chicken sandwiches were 1.75 last time I was there. Heineken were 2bucks. The international TV and merchandise tent is where they basically print their money.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnnycz
I agree with Press Agent. I don't give a hoot what the ANGC revenue/profit is. This is by far the best golf telecast of the year, the limited commercials make it very attractive, the added bonus of limited commentator gossip and the absence of Gary McCord are an added bonus. They do not need my good wishes, but they have them
John
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Morris
Don't forget parking is free as well.
03.16.2015 | Unregistered CommenterGA

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