For many watching the Masters this year, most will be avid golf fans. For others, perhaps more borderline followers of the sport, the first Major of 2014 will offer a glimpse into the world of golf at its impeccable best.
As a game, golf can be said to be reserved for an elite. The Masters’ invitation and now strict qualification process coupled with its famous Augusta course’s stringent admittance of female golfers, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore becoming the first female members only two years ago, show us a side of golf that not only is steeped in tradition but which is celebrated. As a global golfing event, the Masters is seen as the pinnacle of the sport itself.
Despite this, the Masters is actually the youngest of all the Majors. Its success comes from its ability to project golf’s traditions and in doing so building its own brand identity. Played at the same iconic Augusta course every year and coupled with the traditional Green Jacket for the winner and classic white overalls for the Caddies, the Masters has developed into the most recognisable golfing event for both avid and casual golf fans the world over.
The Masters in these terms is however somewhat of a conundrum.
Although the high brand value created by the tournament’s unwavered attention to detail and tradition generates the perfect global viewing spectacle for any sports fan, they themselves would struggle to play a course on a par with that at Augusta, let alone get their hands on a ticket.
These traditions and strong brand identity, coupled with familiarity for the watching millions means that people all over the world will anticipate the final charge around the Amen Corner on the Back Nine when the Champion is traditionally chosen by either their own acts of golfing courage or by the implosion of their competitors. In golfing terms it is as close to a guaranteed tense climax as you get which appeals to broadcasters and fans alike, and it is this that helps make the Masters so compelling.
The Masters certainly benefits from being the first major of the year and the one with the longest run up for the media as many have anticipated its arrival since the August of the previous year. It’s winners from all over the world including Europe, South America, Australia, Fiji, South Africa help to fuel the desire for broadcasters to buy rights it and fans in turn to tune in.
It is this exclusivity that makes the tournament all the more appealing. The Masters provides the most access into the world of televised golf. For the avid fan it is their ‘Golfing Mecca’, for the casual fan, it is hard to ignore.
In terms of participation, contrary to popular belief, golf is reasonably accessible to play – there are more courses than ever before, but the lack of regular coverage on free-to-air TV does mean that it has certainly suffered in terms of exposure. The Masters however gives the borderline fan that much needed injection of golfing excitement, passion and entertainment. For this, the Masters is not only the most accessible golf tournament to watch, but a beacon for insuring it is enjoyed and seen at its very impeccable best.