The Masters: Here's How The Augusta National Golf Club Has Spent $200M On Expansion
Augusta National Golf Club has spent more than $200M on another type of green — residential and commercial real estate.
The famous Georgia golf club, home of The Masters golf tournament, has amassed more than 200 acres surrounding the golf course over the past 20 years using a string of shell companies and limited liability companies, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Augusta National's land grab is continuing unabated. Officials with the club purchased two strip centers, anchored by a Hooters and a Publix Super Market, for $41M as well as a Presbyterian church, which ended up building a new facility nearby, for $1.65M. These efforts have increased Augusta National's territory by more than 75%.
The club is known to pay many multiples of the market rates for the land. Those premiums have led to an increase in millions of dollars to the local tax roll over the years, Richmond County chief appraiser Aleveno Ross told the WSJ.
“They’ve made quite a few homeowners millionaires,” Venus Griffin, a prominent Augusta real estate agent, told the WSJ.
A lot of this can be credited to Billy Payne, the architect of Atlanta's successful bid to win the hosting duties for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Payne served as the club's chairman from 2006 to 2017, during which the club made many land purchases. He also helped to increase The Masters' revenues, from $22M in 1997 to $115M in 2015, according to Golf Digest.
In many ways, The Masters has become a corporate networking event on par with the Super Bowl. While direct badges to The Masters surpass $300, secondary market prices are much, much higher, starting at $5K on StubHub for four-day passes, according to Golf Digest.
While some of the land buys have been used to increase parking, they also have gone toward attempting to deter a carnival-like atmosphere outside the club walls, the WSJ reports. The newspaper said commercial activity outside the grounds and outside its control was becoming inconsistent to the look and feel of The Masters, with many private parties brought within the grounds instead.
Still, what Augusta National's ultimate plans are for many of its acquired real estate parcels remains a mystery. In 2016, Payne told an online blog that it plans years ahead when it comes to real estate decisions.
“We plan 20 years down the road. We have plans for every couple of years' iteration going all the way out to 20 years,” he told the blog.