Just how much money rolls into the Augusta, Georgia, area with The Masters Tournament is anyone’s guess.
Even in its 81st year, Augusta National Golf Club continues to keep secret the smallest details regarding the tradition and its operations, from attendance numbers to mower settings.
“We’ve tried to estimate [money spent] before,” says Barry White, president and chief executive officer of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau. “But without some information that would be required to give good data going in, it’s challenging.”
Augusta National declined to share how many attendees were expected for this year’s event, as well as expected revenues for items including food, beverage and merchandising.
White was able to offer a few anecdotes that illustrate the infusion of green for what several locals likened to hosting a Super Bowl annually:
The Augusta area’s hospitality industry considers Masters Week a 13th month in terms of revenue received.
Some hotels make up to 20 percent of their annual revenue that week.
The area’s 7,200 hotel rooms will have a 98-percent occupancy rate, and almost that many private bedrooms are available for lease during Masters Week.
“This community transforms every year, and it is like an art form to see it come to fruition,” says Robert Bennett, executive director of the Development Authority of Columbia County, Georgia, a neighbor to Augusta’s Richmond County. “It is the only place in the world that can be this immaculate, and there is so much respect. It is unlike any sporting event in the world, but unfortunately there is no central point of data.”
Even if there were a revenue estimate, Bennett believes it would be impossible to measure every aspect of The Masters’ magic.
“Just being here and being at some of the surrounding events is enough for some people,” says Bennett. “You can fly over the airports and see hundreds of jets lining the runways here. People rent houses for anything from $2,000 and going as high as $30,000 and $40,000. It’s hard to capture the economic impact because you have so many companies coming here to be part of the social environment.”
Even though local agencies have no round number to hang their hats on, they are not complaining.
“I think everyone here is truly grateful for what The Masters does for our community every year,” adds Bennett. “I cannot stress enough, having gone to other tournaments, there is nothing more amazing than this.”
By the numbers
- $176.8 Billion: Total economic impact of golf in America, including direct, indirect and induced impacts.
- $68.8 Billion: Total size of the golf economy nationally.
- $55.6 Billion: Total wage income from about 2 million U.S. jobs.
- 15,204: Approximate number of U.S. golf facilities, with more than 10,000 open to the public.
- $20.6 Billion: Total travel expenditures produced by the golf industry.
- $5.6 Billion: Total amount spent on golf supplies.
- $523 Million: Total spent on golf-related media including books, magazines, DVDs, etc.
- 75: One in 75 jobs in the U.S. is impacted by the golf industry (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- $37: Median green fee in the U.S.
- 8 out of 10 golfers play public golf.
- 1.98 Million: Number of U.S. jobs impacted by the U.S. golf industry
Industry representatives are also at a loss when it comes to pinpointing the economic impact of The Masters.
“I haven’t seen any numbers on the economic impact of The Masters, but I can say in respect to the other majors, including the U.S. Open and the Ryder Cups, typically there will be $100 million to $140 million impact in those cities where these are held,” says Steve Mona, chief executive officer of the World Golf Foundation. “The Masters has at least that level of importance and probably more.”
Beyond dollars spent, the major championships have the ability to influence new participation in the sport, and that is getting a boost from the increasing use of social media.
“The major championships no doubt have grown in prestige, awareness, on-site attendance and viewership, and with mobile devices there are more people engaged than ever before even if there are fewer watching via TV,” Mona says.
Golf’s governing bodies and sponsoring organizations have done a better job creating awareness for their events, says Mona, which has created excitement around the majors greater than even 10 years ago.
“That’s all been good for the game, too,” he says.
Back in Georgia, Augusta National’s governing body, and the town that surrounds it, appear to have their approach down to a science, as well.