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April 05, 2013

Masters, Augusta undergo full transformation under Billy Payne

Posted at 4:29 PM by Coleman McDowell | Categories: 2013 Masters

The Masters and Augusta National have several celebrated traditions, many dating back to the days of co-founder Bobby Jones. The winner of the tournament is still presented a green jacket by the previous champion — who still selects the menu for the pre-tournament Champions Dinner. The concession stand offers pimento-cheese sandwiches priced at a minimal $1.50 to the general public, referred to as patrons inside the ropes.

This year's event will boast several differences from the tournament and club that Bobby Jones helped create eighty years ago, detailed in an article on Bloomberg.com.

The most public addition is the introduction of two new members to the club. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore were admitted in August as the first female members of the club in its 80-year history.

Chairman Billy Payne has focused on the growth of the tournament rather than maintaining several traditonal aspects of the club throughout his tenure.

“This is a natural progression of the recognition that the Masters is a commercial enterprise,” said Casey Alexander, a golf industry analyst and research director of New York-based Gilford Securities. “The world is not the same as when Mr. Jones ran the Masters. Things that do not evolve die.”

Part of Augusta National evolving includes a "member's retreat" in Amen Corner, sponsor cabins that have popped up all over the course, and a Masters video game.

The biggest transformation might be in the works.

The next major developments may be off-campus. Augusta National has spent more than $50 million buying properties in a bordering neighborhood, according to tax assessor records compiled by a longtime resident, William Hatcher. The club has razed the purchased homes and uses the assembled 118 acres for Masters parking.

But until Payne replaces the green jacket with a hologram version, almost no amount of change could ruin Augusta for us.

(Photo: Augusta Chronicle)

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