By now, you’ve likely heard the intriguing yet surprising news: The Masters is opening Augusta National to the gaming public. That’s right. If you have a compatible device (Wii, PlayStation, X-Box etc.), then you can step on those hallowed grounds to play a round. Perhaps the more significant question behind the news is the reason — The powers-that-be have embargoed access to Augusta for so long (media restrictions, long waiting lists even for a ticket, no women members yet, etc.). Why now? Club chairman Billy Payne wants to attract a younger crowd to golf, according to the AP.
The move is part of a broader effort by the club to increase interest in golf around the world, especially among youth. In his four years as club chairman, Billy Payne started a program in which juniors can attend the Masters for free with an adult who has a season badge and televised the Par 3 tournament.
Payne also announced Tuesday the “Masters Tournament Foundation,” a charity arm that will allow Augusta National to invest in developmental programs around the world. Payne said all proceeds from the EA Sports game would go into the new foundation.
“Our desire to help grow the game of golf throughout the world is sincere, and it is that commitment that first led us to EA Sports more than three years ago,” Payne said in a statement. “EA Sports, Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour have developed an extremely successful franchise that responds to one of the popular entertainment choices of kids today. We hope our inclusion will foster an appreciation for the history and traditions of the Masters and inspire the next generation of golfers.”
I guess that’s sorta a perfect marriage in a dysfunctional kind of way? Better than nothing.
EA Sports has invited the media to a luncheon, where we will have the opportunity to play the game. Hooray! Hopefully I’ll get to take my shot and report back.