In the early evening, when the sunlight disappears over the fairways of the Augusta National Golf Club and tens of thousands have left the US Masters venue in the southern town of Augusta, there is silence.

The clubhouse from 1854 sits gleaming white at the highest point of the former plantation area.

From the balcony on the first floor there is a view of the more than 150-year-old oak behind the first tee.

No advertising banner blocks the view, no sponsored car is parked next to the 18th green.

This is the logo-free golf world of the US Masters - apart from the yellow Masters logo itself. A place that seems to have fallen out of time.

Anyone who thinks about the recipe for success of this major tournament, which starts next Thursday, will always end up at one point: This is the perfect combination of a top-class sporting event that appears superficially non-commercial with a marketing machinery in the background that has made every competitor in golf professional the first edition of the tournament in 1934 in the shade.

The venerable clubhouse.

On the other side, Magnolia Lane, a 300 meter long avenue lined with 61 magnolias, leads to the home of the Augusta National Golf Club

Source: pa / dpa / Andrew Gombert

Where else would global companies like Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, AT&T, Bank of America or IBM scramble to pay millions for a sporting event where they are barely visible.

The Masters sponsorship slots are limited to five - and when Chairman Fred S. Ridley picks up the phone to tell a CEO that you're about to join the illustrious circle, the CEO doesn't ask for the sponsorship fee.

He takes it, thanks for the offer and is happy to be there.

From then on, he does what the Augusta National Golf Club demands: Like in 2020, when each of the sponsors invested $ 2.5 million in a long-term social neighborhood project in Augusta because the club wanted it that way.

Secret recipes


Secrets are the basis of every myth.

The Augusta myth is based on a multitude of peculiarities that are persistently cultivated here.

The recipe for the egg salad on the white sandwich bread that is traditionally served here?

A secret.

Just like that of the legendary pimento cheese sandwich, which is available for $ 1.50.

It is well known, however, why there are no fries: Clifford Roberts, next to Bobby Jones the founder of the club, thought they were unhealthy.

They are still taboo here today.

But the list of members, which is estimated to have around 300 names, remains a mystery.

In 2002 the daily newspaper "USA Today" published a list, Bloomberg added 118 people in 2005.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and major investor Warren Buffett, both among the ten richest people in the world, found themselves on it.

As for the long-undesired female members, we now know of four women who have made it into the world's elite golfing circles: Ex-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Ginni Rometty from IBM, billionaire Darla Moore and Diana Murphy, ex -President of the United States Golf Association, did it.

Which is why Trump will never make it a member


A Donald Trump, on the other hand, will probably never be seen in the members' green jackets.

This is a quiet club where people don't brag about money and influence.

Membership is by invitation, and to date Dwight D. Eisenhower is the only US president whose membership is known for certain.

He was almost a permanent fixture at Augusta National: During his two terms in office from 1953 to 1961 he came to Augusta 45 times and played 200 rounds of golf during these stays.

There is a dictatorial style towards all members.

The president alone decides, and even with the slightest faux pas, the respective club boss - currently Fred S. Ridley - puts members out of the door: because they have made unjustified public statements about the Augusta National Golf Club, because they put their green jacket outside the club's boundaries have attracted or because of similar unseemly things.

Members who have fallen out of favor will no longer receive their annual accounts - a subtle indication that a misstep has been committed somewhere.

Even Masters champions are put on the curb: When Charl Schwartzel decided in 2012 to have a barbecue in front of the clubhouse at the 2011 champions dinner, he was told that a barbecue outside the building was not the style of the house.

Then you sat at the table in a civilized manner.

Tradition-loving and innovative at the same time


Those who consider the gentlemen in green to be hopelessly backward because of all these quirks, however, are greatly mistaken.

The US Masters, for many experts the most important golf tournament in the world, was revolutionary from the start, driven by the investment banker Clifford Roberts (1894-1977), who understood the principle of power like no other.

He subjugated the television networks by giving TV giant CBS a one-year contract in 1956 and deciding who would become advertising partners there, how much advertising time those partners would get and how much they would have to pay for it.

That was only possible because, with Bobby Jones, he had perhaps the first real golf superstar by his side right from the start.

Jones had won the Grand Slam in 1930 and was considered the best player of all time.

The fact that he was a co-founder of the Augusta National Golf Club at the first Masters tournament in 1934 was advertising enough for the event.

Still present: a sundial in Augusta immortalizes golf legend Bobby Jones

Source: pa / dpa / Erik S. Lesser

Clifford Roberts' penchant for the latest technology has been preserved to this day.

In 2019, for example, the Masters app caused a sensation with the "Shots-on-demand" feature.

Every fan can watch every shot from every player on his mobile phone.

Sophisticated graphics of the greens made even the specialists of the TV stations CBS and ESPN pale.

In the meantime, the Masters.com digital presence is trend-setting in the sports industry.

"That's because we're committed to delivering content to our fans the way they want it," said CEO Fred Ridley.

The leaderboards on the field are still put in by hand to this day, but telephone cables were pulled into the ground as early as 1941 to speed up the process.

In 1965 they were a pioneer in golf with a television broadcast and in 1981 they were the first organizer to try out a heating and cooling system below the green surfaces.

$ 30 million in net income

"Just like with the golf course itself, change in Augusta National means constant and calm evolution", is how the four-time Masters Champion, who has since passed away, Arnold Palmer once described the innovative spirit of those responsible.

When other tournament organizers were still operating out of country clubs, Jones and Roberts founded Augusta National Inc. as the commercial arm and owner of the US Masters.

The US magazine Golf Digest estimated the net profit of the event to be approximately $ 30 million annually.

If you get hold of one of the Masters tickets, which have been officially sold out for years, on the black market, you will have a wonderful time on site.

The day ends with the Masters song called "Augusta" in my ear.

It's a cheesy catchy tune that is reminiscent of the blooming magnolias on the course, the iced, sweet lemonade and a great day of world-class golf.

Almost like from another time.

Tiger Woods helps Dustin Johnson with the most coveted piece of clothing in the golf world: the green jacket.

The winner receives it and is only allowed to take it off the system in the first year

Source: picture alliance / Kyodo