It’s almost tee time at the Augusta National Country Club for the 82nd edition of the Masters Tournament, one of the most prestigious golf competitions in the world.
Tickets sold out fast as the fans gather on the green to see the comeback of 42-year-old Tiger Woods, who will be disputing his first major in two years.
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The return of such a sports icon could not happen in any other course than Augusta National, an iconic ground itself.
With its 84 years of history and its spectacular views, Augusta is not just a sight for sore eyes, but actually the temple of this sport and one of the most exclusive clubs in the world.
If you really want to become a member, you probably never will
Yet, despite holding the reputation of being elitist and tough to join, Augusta has recently softened up its policy to enable a more diverse membership.
Don’t misunderstand, becoming a member – that is, receiving an invitation to join from the club – is still almost impossible, but it is fair to say there has been some change to open-up in the past ten years.
There aren’t any specific, written entry requirements to become part of the club, although popularity, personal achievements and a strong annual income are some of the key metrics.
Roughly 300 people – successful, accomplished members of the corporate and public world – can currently wear the club’s iconic green jacket.
Some of the notable members of the club include Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.
Augusta’s small steps towards equality in gender and race
Augusta has only welcomed women for the past six years with the first two members, politician Condoleezza Rice and Wall-Street businesswoman Darla Moore.
While women were last to be welcomed to the Georgia-based club, it was only in 1990 that the club admitted its first African-American member, media mogul Ron Townsend.
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If you hope to join the club, you might want to start saving
Although Augusta does not reveal its membership fees, an anonymous club patron told Golf World in 2009 that initiation fees are “in the low figures”, seemingly pointing to a sum between $25,000 and $50,000, with monthly dues thought to be less than $4,000.
Considering that annual fees at the exclusive Wentworth club in Surrey, England, are around $23,000 and that Donald Trump’s National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, reportedly charges new members $450,000 dollars, Augusta looks almost convenient.