Masters series badges: The most coveted item in sports is nearly impossible to get
Masters tickets are some of the hottest items in the sports world, but when it comes to Masters series badges, those beauties are on a whole different hierarchy of coveted tickets.
But they do exist. Here’s the skinny.
While most patrons gain access to the Masters and Augusta National Golf Club by entering the lottery and getting lucky to have their names drawn for a practice or tournament round, there are many who own series badges — a.k.a annual tickets to the tournament. But these belong to a very small, and lucky, group of people.
But first, let’s backtrack. Augusta National Golf Club opened in 1932, and the first Masters — then called the Augusta National Invitational Tournament — was held in 1934. Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones co-founded the club, but their tournament didn’t immediately take off and attendance didn’t either. Much of this was due to the Great Depression, and the club had little money to expand on its original grand plans.
It was easy to get tickets in the early years, either by walking up to the gate or securing series badges, which are good for the four tournament days.
But this all changed as the tournament evolved. CBS broadcasted its first Masters in 1956, and stars such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player made good use of the increased exposure. From 1958 to 1966, that trio won eight of the nine Masters. As the Masters grew in popularity, so did the value of the series badges. In 1972, the club created a waiting list for those looking to sign up for the badges. It became so flooded with names it closed in 1978. It opened again briefly in 2000 and hasn’t been open since. How many of these badges actually exist though?
Good question; nobody knows.
One current badge-holder who spoke to GOLF.com applied during that 2000 opening. Every year Augusta National sent them an application to apply for practice-round tickets, which they never got, but in 2005 a letter came saying they had been accepted for two patron badges for all four tournament days.
“My wife and I both read the letter four times wondering if there was a catch,” he said. “It really was like winning the lottery.”
This couple has attended every year since. There’s an added perk, too: badge-holders can bring one junior with them for free. Regular-ticket lottery winners don’t get that luxury.
And once you are in, you’re in. There is one caveat, though: Once a badge-holder passes away, these tickets aren’t transferable to someone else or another family member. The tickets, most assume, are given to the next person on the waiting list.
As for the cost, badges for this year’s Masters — which grants admission Thursday to Sunday — are $450. That’s a sizable increase from last year’s $375, yet it’s still hard to argue it’s not the best deal in sports. Those who don’t have badges have to rely on signing up and winning the Masters lottery. If you do, practice-round tickets for this year are $100 each, and tournament days are $140 each.
The secondary market doesn’t come with patron-friendly prices, either. A single ticket for Masters Sunday this year will cost you over $1,000, and a series badge will set you back $6,000, minimum. Like we said, it’s good to be a Masters badge-holder — owners of the best deal in sports.