April 15, 2024

A Tradition Unlike Any Other: A Look at the Masters

April does not just signify the start of spring, warm weather, and rain showers. To many sports fans across the globe, it signifies the beginning of the most famous golf tournament in the world: the Masters. Taking place in the quiet town of Augusta, Georgia, the tournament at Augusta National draws in people from every country. Renowned for its beautiful fairways, blooming azaleas, and the coveted green jacket, the Masters is without a doubt one of the most influential tournaments in history. But for 2024 and beyond, this tradition is coming with some new changes, new competition, and a renewed passion for victory.

the masters

Masters Matchup: PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf

As most of the world knows, the PGA tour is no longer the only professional tour anymore. With the emergence of LIV Golf, the rival league funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the PGA Tour is now beginning to fight for viewers and players. When LIV began to poach players from the PGA Tour, the players who left knew that they would be seen as a “traitor” to PGA Tour supporters. LIV golfers like Bryson DeChambeau were not as welcomed to their now rival tournaments, until recently. Jon Rahm, the 2023 Masters winner and a recent addition to LIV Golf, expressed in an interview that he had hoped his move would unite the two leagues, which unfortunately was not the case. 

Now the PGA is slowly but surely embracing LIV players and inviting them to play in their exclusive tournaments. The 2024 Masters is the first tournament of the year where both PGA and LIV golfers are competing together. Articles and photos immediately swirled: Jon Rahm was pictured speaking with Rory McIlroy— arguably one of the biggest supporters of the PGA Tour and opposers of LIV Golf. Perhaps the biggest headline is that Augusta National invited one of the top LIV golfers, Joaquin Niemann, to play this year. Due to the fact that Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) does not recognize the points LIV golfers earn, several elite players have been left out because they are not aligned. Regardless, Augusta National allowed 18 LIV golfers to play in the tournament last year and 13 this year. Their continued recognition suggests a turning point in Major competition play.

Project Development: Who Gives in and Who Refuses?

Another Masters topic under discussion is the ever-evolving property of Augusta National and how it is continuously impacting the local community. Augusta retains a standard of excellence, and with LIV Golf giving them a run for their money, they are turning to one thing: expansion. A whole neighborhood near the course has been bulldozed into parking lots, along with an estimated $200M of other surrounding areas. The growth will not stop there. Augusta National has plans to buy and turn huge plots of land into concepts like a banquet hall, on-site housing for the players and media, and an exit off of highway I-20 dedicated to taking people directly to the golf course parking lots. 

The Masters will generate $142M in revenue, raking in $70M in merchandise sales alone during the tournament. With their high profit margin, some are calling Augusta National tone-deaf. About 20% of Augusta’s population lives below the poverty line, so when Augusta National offers to buy the homes of those whose property borders the course, it is hard to say no. One Augusta couple has refused to sell their home to the golf club for years— it’s the home they raised their children and grandchildren in. It seems expansion will continue regardless, but at what cost to the neighboring community?

the masters

Tiger Woods' Push for a Sixth Jacket

Legendary golfer Tiger Woods has been facing a multitude of changes in the past few years. He has won fifteen major championships, five of them being here at the Masters, and has been named PGA Tour Player of the Year eleven times. Heading into his 26th Masters, Tiger Woods braced for the physical toll of playing through persistent pain, exacerbated by a series of injuries and a life-threatening 2021 car accident. Despite his drive to succeed, Tiger ultimately finished the tournament with the highest score of his professional career. The fans on the course didn’t care— they were in the presence of a great.

This 88th Masters, the greatest tradition in golf, is often regarded as an event that will never change. However, amidst tradition, evolution is occurring. Whether it’s expansion beyond the fairway or rivalry between two leagues, the future of the Masters and golf itself is set to change its course. This year PGA golfer Scottie Scheffler took home the coveted green jacket, but who knows which champion and which changes next year will bring.

Sources:

  1. https://www.golfdigest.com/story/2023-masters-augusta-national-contends-with-liv-golf-distance-property-expansion-impossible-standards
  2. https://www.wrdw.com/2024/03/06/augusta-national-golf-club-buys-city-park-350000/
  3. https://news.yahoo.com/owners-1-900-square-foot-151854421.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAC5OfEPgKsRL7tNUxbGyEPQqAhBWTaZ5L28BlRMfiS8KXl6R3h5GgPzWdYt2-BgzYQ1bWweKHlB83yUYJOjgcTv51_dmZIuf19DeAAjQ0JioVG-8fmz1EVqiUlQdLWq1DWMi8y-mTzmN_QaTxItMyc76vJVlNybY69-OAemC8hEU
  4. https://frontofficesports.com/masters-making-way-for-pga-tour-liv-stakeholders-to-discuss-future/
  5. https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2024/04/09/tiger-woods-masters/
  6. https://www.cbssports.com/golf/news/majors-continue-to-rise-above-the-pga-tour-vs-liv-golf-noise-with-joaquin-niemanns-masters-invitation/
  7. https://www.si.com/golf/news/timeline-liv-golf-how-pga-tour-adapted
  8. https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/39907017/tiger-says-masters-win-everything-comes-together

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