eBay: A Haven for Masters Merchandise
by Max - 04/09/2007
The Masters golf tournament just completed this week and unknown Zach Johnson walked away with the green jacket beating the likes of Tiger Woods and Retief Goosen. This was the first time in decades that the winning score was over par and the tournament certainly had the feel of a U.S. Open. The Masters has always claimed to be a tradition unlike any other and that is certainly the case in more ways then one would think. The following examines some of the unique situations of the Augusta National Golf Club and its limited membership.
Most patrons know about the limited television coverage the Masters has on cable and network TV. For the years and till this day, the Masters brass negotiates their contracts on a one-year basis despite the fact that everyone assumes the USA network will broadcast the tournament on Thursday and Friday and CBS will show the coverage on the weekend. Neither network can show the entire day of action similar to what is done in other majors such as the US Open or PGA Championship. Many believe this is a ploy by Augusta in order to increase their TV Neilson ratings. Personally I like this and watching eight hours of golf a day is too much of a time commitment and there are better ways to spend a weekend afternoon (doing yard work is not one of them). In addition to the successive one-year contacts, here are some other unique rules that the Augusta faithful require the televisions networks to abide by.
1) They must refer to the crowd as patrons.
2) The rough must be called the second cut.
3) Commentator Gary McCord is not allowed on the premises despite being a fixture of CBS Golf since 1986. In 1995, McCord remarked that the 17th green was so fast that it seemed to be bikini-waxed. Augusta was not amused by that comment and he has not been invited back every since.
4) Minimal commercial interruptions (4 minutes per hour) and all are Augusta-negotiated sponsors.
5) No promos of new pilots from CBS that everyone knows are going to tank. I applaud them for this regulation.
6) No on-course announcers are allowed to walk with the leaders.
In addition to the television restrictions, another trait that sets Augusta apart is their merchandising. How many times have you watched the Masters and saw those unique green hats that the caddies wear and wanted one for yourself as well? You also see spectators wearing them and it would appear they would be easy to come by. You could easily log-on to Masters.org and purchase whatever you so desire and be the class of your local country club while you watch the Masters from the clubhouse. However, that is not the case, as nowhere on the official Masters website will you find information about a gift shop. In fact, Augusta only allows their merchandise to be sold on the premises the week of the Masters tournament. Since tickets are almost impossible to come by, you may be out of luck, unless you can get one of the "patrons" with tickets to buy you something.
But with the invention of the Internet, consumers of these items have been given some extra options. eBay is becoming a Masters merchandise paradise, as patrons who attend the event buy as much stuff as they can carry then go home and list the items on the popular auction site. For people like me this works out extremely well, since it is just like shopping in a catalog, with only one exception. You have to pay through the roof in order to be the winning bidder on these items. The demand is certainly greater then the supply and thus items sometimes go for double than the overpriced value Augusta sells them for. This has become such a big business, that the pro shop runs out of stuff by the start of the tournament on Thursday.
Here is an example of what some of the closing bids are on eBay for Masters merchandise:
1) Masters Green Trucker Hat - Regular Price 19.95, eBay Price around $40
2) Masters Green Caddie Hat - Regular Price 19.95, eBay Price around $35
3) Masters Golf Shirts - Regular Price 49.95, eBay Price $70-$100
4) Masters Pullovers - Regular Price 59.95, eBay Price $80 - $100
These are the prices for new merchandise but you may be able to find used items at a cheaper price. This has become such big business for some sellers that now they will give you an invoice before the Masters starts and allow you to order things and then they will pick them up and ship them to you.
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