Masters turns into Spring Break for CEOs

Sat Apr 8, 2017 7:10pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

AUGUSTA, Georgia (Reuters) - To wander the immaculately manicured grounds of Augusta National Golf Club during the U.S. Masters is to take a stroll back in time.

A time before the marriage of sport and commercialism where scoreboards are operated manually and the only signage directs you to someplace picturesque rather than entice you to buy a car or smartphone.

One of the world's most elite clubs, Augusta National operates under the principle that if you are obscenely wealthy there is no reason to advertise it, the only label here is the ever-present Masters logo.

Outside the Augusta National walls, however, it is all business as some of the world's biggest brands cozy up alongside golf's most celebrated event to share in its glow.

This is, as one corporate executive put it, Spring Break and Coachella melded into one big corporate CEO-filled mosh pit.

"The Masters is the number one corporate event of the year," Kenny Dichter, co-founder and CEO of Wheels Up, a private aviation firm providing luxury service to the Masters, told Reuters. "When you have CEOs and different corporate executives together in one place that's when magic happens.

"We just want to create the platform, the canvas, for our members to meet and talk and create."

That canvas is an expansive one of mansions, private jets, celebrity chefs, limousines, cigar bars and premium liquor.   Continued...

A dinner is set up at the Mercedes-Benz USA hospitality area at River Island in Augusta, Georgia, in this undated handout photo.  Jensen Larson Photography/Mercedes-Benz USA - 2017 Masters Experience/Handout via REUTERS