Gates to open for children

One of the toughest tickets in sports just got a little easier to obtain -- if you're the right age.

 

Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne announced Thursday that, beginning with the 2008 Masters Tournament, children ages 8-16 will be admitted free on tournament days (Thursday through Sunday) when accompanied by an accredited patron.

The individual named on a series badge application is considered an accredited patron. Only one child per patron will be admitted.

The initiative is part of an effort by the club to reach a broader and younger audience.

"We want to inspire the next generation of golfers now," Mr. Payne said in a written statement. "We're serious about exposing youngsters to golf and the Masters."

The move will give young fans a chance to see first-hand the world's top golfers. Other major golf tournaments offer free or reduced-price tickets for youngsters, but the Masters badge with a face value of $175 is one of the most sought-after tickets in all of sports.

Getting a badge for the Masters has been a difficult task since the 1960s.

A waiting list for series badges was established in 1972 and closed in 1978 when demand far exceeded the club's supply.

The waiting list briefly reopened in 2000 and individuals who applied for practice-round tickets from 1998-2000 were added by random selection.

The 2008 Masters will be April 10-13.

Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or john.boyette@augustachronicle.com.

PAR-3 CONTEST TO BE ON ESPN

Television viewers will get to see a different part of Augusta National Golf Club in 2008.

ESPN will broadcast the Par-3 Contest, the prelude to the Masters Tournament, from 3-5 p.m. April 9. ESPN also will televise the first two rounds of the 2008 Masters.

The golfers' children often caddie during the family-oriented event, which is held on the adjacent par-3 course at Augusta National.

The par-3 course, which measures just 1,060 yards, has produced 63 holes-in-one since the event's inception in 1960.

"It's an event everyone enjoys, and we think it will demonstrate to kids just how fun golf can be," Augusta National and Masters Chairman Billy Payne said.