Masters Week 2019 has officially arrived. Just walking the grounds at Augusta National has been described as heavenly. And, while many of us would give almost anything to get to ride down Magnolia Lane, such was not always the case.
Before the days of Jack, Arnie, and Tiger, The Masters had trouble selling tickets. To remedy the problem, Augusta National Golf Club would enlist the help of local banks and hotels as well as its members to push ticket sales, and even that was not an easy feat. No one ever thought that decades later The Masters would become the most iconic golf tournament in the world.
“I remember I was at my bank one afternoon, wanting to renew a loan, and my lending officer said, ‘Mr. Pratt, we’ve got these tickets we have to sell, how about taking 50 of them?’” remembers Hugh Pratt, a 94-year-old lifelong Augustan. “We were getting pressured by our bankers!
They were trying to sell the Masters, so to speak.”
However, by 1972 the patron list was closed, and a ticket that was once hard to give away had become one of the most coveted and expensive tickets in all of sports, let alone golf.
“Boy, things have changed,” stated Pratt. “By about 1957 or 1958, I’d say, they didn’t need to have the banks push those tickets anymore.”
So it is no wonder why individuals are willing to spend so much money to get through the gate. However, obtaining tickets may be even harder than winning the actual lottery. Augusta National limits the number of tickets sold to 250,000 on purpose. They want each experience to not only be memorable but also give everyone the chance to get up close and personal to both the players and the course.
Therefore, unless you are lucky enough to have been born into the ticket lottery, your chances of acquiring tickets are near impossible. While the demand for tickets continues to increase, the supply has remained the same.
“It’s truly a bucket list item for so many people,” stated Chris Leyden, communications manager for SeatGeek, an online ticketing site that currently has Saturday and Sunday badges for next week’s 83rd Masters running for more than $5,000. “More than 10,000 people enter the lottery each year. It’s a national, even global, audience. For so many fans, this is the pinnacle sporting event they’re going to attend in their life.”
Due to their astoundingly high demand, ticket prices have skyrocketed on the secondary market. According to Leyden, for those individuals who have not been born into The Masters’ ticket dynasty, “passes for the four individual tournament days (Thursday-Sunday) can cost as much as $2,000. Practice rounds run about $1,000, though the prices tend to dip as the tournament nears.” And, as of the end of last week, the average ticket price had risen to $2,484, a 15% increase from that of 2018.
So why the astronomic increase? Many individuals credit the return and resurgence of Tiger Woods. After beginning the 2018 season ranked 1,199th in the Official World Golf Rankings, today the 4-time Masters Champion finds himself at №12.
“Prices definitely seem a bit higher this year,” stated Leyden. “In general, we’ve seen an upswing since Tiger (returned). A lot of this is Tiger related.”
However, if Tiger is going to win his 5th jacket, he is going to need to make it happen sooner rather than later. Jack Nicklaus is the oldest golfer to have won The Masters in 1986 when he was 46 years and 82 days old. Tiger is 43 years old with his last win coming in 2005.
And what makes a ticket to The Masters all that more special? All are general admission meaning those who arrive early can stake their spot and may even have the chance to be positioned right on the 18th green. The hardest part — actually obtaining a ticket.