The Augusta National Model
|Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 10:29 AM- -|
The Augusta National Model
I had a chance to do one of my favorite things Monday when I got invited to a practice round for the Masters at Augusta National.
Mother Nature limited the day to only two and a half hours but it was still nice to get back to one of the greatest places on Earth.
I won't bore the non-golf fans with any details of the golf aspect but since this is a Clemson blog, I wanted to pass along some ideas that maybe Clemson could incorporate for its fans at future Clemson sporting events.
It is obvious that Augusta National has a completely different budget than Clemson athletics. The membership at Augusta National is made up of hundreds of the nation's wealthiest people. They don't publicize it and few know the exact figures, but my guess is Augusta National brings in hundreds of millions more money than Clemson athletics each year. When you combine ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, TV revenue, dues, assessments, etc. it would have to be many times that of what Clemson athletics produce.
Therefore, many of the specifics that make Augusta National special can't be implemented at Clemson due to budget constraints. But Clemson could still learn a lot. Maybe the most important idea is creating an experience where fans feel like they get more than they pay for.
Below are part of the reasons the fan experience is so special at Augusta National:
The face value for a practice round ticket yesterday was $50. My guess is that Augusta's membership could get four times that amount of they wanted to. My friend bought four from a scalper for Wednesday's practice round for $1,300. However, the membership keeps ticket prices more than reasonable at Augusta.
This is the best bargain in sports. Sandwiches are $1.50 at Augusta National. Soft drinks are $1.50. Clemson has constraints in its contracts but I hear a lot of Tiger fans complain about $4 bottles of water. This is one area where Clemson could learn from the best in the business.
You would be hard pressed to find a cigarette butt or a sandwich wrapper anywhere on the grounds at Augusta National. The employees in charge of litter are on top of the scene and prevalent throughout the property. I will say that Clemson does a very good job here. I am amazed that the campus looks great Sunday after home games.
Augusta National bought surrounding neighborhoods and tore down houses in order to provide parking for its patrons. Oh, I should have added "FREE" parking. Imagine going to a college football game and parking for free.
Augusta National has a no refund policy for its tickets. The policy basically says it rounds are cancelled then the ticket holder is out of luck. However, they released a statement Monday afternoon that said ticket holders today would receive a refund and would get first chance at buying Monday tickets for next year's tournament. Imagine a college giving back money on a rainout in baseball?
Everywhere you go inside the gates at Augusta National, you are greeted by attendants. They are helpful and pleasant. The bathroom attendants keep the place spotless. The concessions people are jovial. The experience is enhanced with their cheer and helpful attitude.
The old Augusta National leadership under people like Cliff Roberts were old and stuffy. Roberts was a racist and pledged to keep his tournament white and his caddies black. After that policy changed, Augusta still had an old-fashioned style of leadership and the tournament reflected that. They even limited TV coverage. The leadership in the last 20 years continues to change and has become progressive. They welcome technology. They understand the modern business model. It is refreshing to see history mixed with progressive leadership.
The membership at Augusta National continues to invest in its product. They reinvest every year to make the experience better. They continue to think outside the box and keep finding ways to make everything about the tournament better each year.
In summary, I understand Clemson is a completely different business model than the Masters Tournament. However, there is a lot to be learned about the way the patrons are valued. I have never walked out of the gates at Augusta National and I felt like I did not get more than I paid for. That attitude is something I think a lot of businesses can learn from. It’s that attitude that a lot of professional and college sports leaders could learn from.
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