| The Daytona Beach News-Journal
While it’s appreciated by the regulars and smart business as well, here’s hoping it’s just a one-time tradition unlike any other.
If you’re fortunate enough to walk the grounds of Augusta National during Masters week, eventually two thoughts enter: 1. “I wonder how much money they make from these seven days of sales in the merchandise shop;” and 2. “I wonder how much they could make if they ever decided to sell this stuff online.”
Estimates regarding the first question were once pegged at $50 million by a national media organization, and everyone has basically run with that figure over the past five years or so. Needless to say, it could either be on the money or wide left into the pines.
More: 31 years, 31 random Masters memories (from 2017)
As for the second question, we’re about to find out. Well, kinda. Augusta National’s finances aren’t locked down and air-tight. The Vatican’s secret archives are locked down and air-tight. Augusta National’s finances are somewhere beyond that. You have a better chance of wrangling the nuclear codes from Secret Service.
So we won’t know the final count from Augusta’s short-term opening of its first-ever online merchandise store, made available to ticket holders only (yes, “patrons”) this past week through Nov. 15. Even anecdotal evidence will be difficult to define, since the familiar logo gracing “2020 Masters” items will literally be spread across the globe instead of just that famous sloping acreage in Northeast Georgia.
Buyers of Masters merch fall into one of two camps: Some like the year-specific items, others like undated material. Of course, there’s a third camp that likes both. This year, with the Masters being postponed from April to mid-November, the “2020 Masters” items are especially luring for the unique nature of it all.
The online store offers a healthy dose of both.
If I could have back every dollar I’ve spent in those shops over the past 34 Aprils … who am I kidding? I’d buy it all over again, mostly because it’s quality material, from the rain jackets that last forever to the 12-year-old folding chair that still holds me with just minimal groaning. And the pricing is basically what you’d see in a local pro shop or even the upper-end racks at Dick’s and Academy Sports.
But one of the most lasting images of a Masters trip isn’t about the things you can put around your shoulders or on your head, but the heavenly indulges that slide down your gullet after you pass through one of the many convenient concession buildings.
For many, no doubt, it’s one of the few weeks a year when you’ll eat an egg-salad sandwich, and almost assuredly the only week you’ll woof down a thick layer of pimento cheese between two pieces of white bread. Each is just $1.50, by the way. Pro tip: Buy both, remove a piece of bread from each, slap the two together — take a big bite and I swear you’ll hear harps playing.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, Augusta National is quite aware that the taste of Augusta National is just as important as what the other senses rake in during tournament week.
For $150, they’ll pack a box with dry ice and ship you their “Taste of the Masters” — one pound of pimento cheese, a pound of egg salad, 1½ pounds of pulled pork barbecue, eight bags of chips, six cookies and six bags of caramel popcorn (all with the official logo, you know). You also get 25 of the hard-plastic 2020 drink cups that will last forever, and a stack of logo’d serving paper.
You’re on your own for the Wonder Bread.
More: Masters online shop open to ticket holders for first time
Augusta being Augusta, the whole process is tightly buttoned and only available to 2020 ticket holders, and even those folks are allowed just two separate shopping sprees through Nov. 15. Make ’em count, and don’t hit that checkout confirmation key until your brother-in-law has forked over $35 for his pair of Peter Millar Masters boxers.
Some have suggested that Dan Mullen’s emotional overkill during and after the Florida-Missouri mini-brawl showed a lack of self-discipline. Not so sure.
A coach’s success is fueled by his ability to lure plenty of four-star recruits and enough five-stars to keep up with the Joneses, not to mention the Sabans. You gotta think most 17-year-old blue-chippers, when watching a coach show enough emotion (or passion, if you prefer) to get fined $25,000 by the SEC, say to themselves, “I’d love to play for a guy like that.”
But we all know what else helps, and today, in his third try, Mullen gets it — Gators over Dawgs by 7.
• Elsewhere, huge personnel setback aside, Clemson by 6 over the Still Not Ready For Primetime Irish; Indiana beats Michigan; Arizona State off the shelf with an upset of USC; Cincy by a ton over Houston; Penn State, finally, over Maryland; Pitt by 3 over FSU; Texas A&M by 20 over S. Carolina; Stanford over Oregon; and the Bulldogs of Concordia, at home, by 12 over the Morningside Mustangs.
BTW: Concordia University is located in Seward, Nebraska. The Lutheran school has German ancestry and in 1894 was originally named Evangelische Lutherische Schulleherer Seminar.
A couple of decades later, the Germans weren’t exactly popular — a little thing called World War I — so to stave off negative vibes, the school made English the official language of all its classes, raised Seward County’s largest flag pole (100 feet!) and changed the school’s name to Lutheran Seminary.
All without the help of a mega-dollar legal team of damage controllers.
Reach Ken Willis at [email protected]