If you went to your banker or a private equity firm to ask for money and told them you wanted it to fund a retail store that would only be open seven days a year you would be laughed out of the room as a daft fool. Everyone knows that to make money you must have enough inventory, provide multiple channels for customers to buy and that you must market your product.
Exceptio probat regulam.
For every rule, there is an exception, and, as in many things, Augusta National is that exception. The reality is that anyone who has attended the Masters and has witnessed the lines into and out of the merchandise areas would be hard pressed to argue that scarcity creates demand. Less is indeed more for the wizards of Washington Avenue. Consider how much the cash register rings over those seven days. It’s enough to send even the most hard-core economist into a tizzy.
Since the subject at hand is rare and collectible golf books, the immediate focus of today’s dissertation is the Berckmans Place book that Augusta National issued circa 2013. Although the Masters is without question the best run sporting event in the world, like many ventures of its ilk, there is a caste system in the tournament. Witness the top row of each grandstand discreetly blocked off for members’ only viewing. Or the secreted cabins sprinkled throughout the property for members to retreat into should they need a Coca-Cola or pimento cheese sandwich.
The most recent incarnation of the evolving Masters experience is Berckmans Place, a new facility located behind the fifth hole that requires a special access badge to enter. It comes with convenient parking adjacent to the course and a gate nearby. Regular Masters
fans patrons cannot access Berckmans Place. The entry price is $6,000 for the week and tickets are generally made available only to corporate entities (affiliated with members, as I understand it). As with everything the legendary golf club does Berckmans Place is tasteful, understated, and elegant. Southern hospitality reigns as does the charming Southern architecture, down to the smallest details such as the Augusta-green colored rocking chairs.
The unpaginated (80 page) hardcover book is done in green cloth with the Berckmans Place logo in gilt. The book is housed in a cardboard pale yellow fold-out box with three green ribbons. Taking the exclusivity theme even further, the book is only available for purchase in the “Warm and inviting signature shop” which offers a carefully curated assortment of merchandise to patrons of Berckmans Place . . . “Luxurious, distinctive, one-of-a-kind, hand crafted.”
The book is filled with high quality images of Augusta National, a history of the Berckmans nursery family, and above all focuses on the fantasyland that is Berckmans Place. For those who don’t have the $6,000 to spring for the ticket, the book offers a glimpse behind the curtain and contains a room by room overview of the Berckmans Place buildings, including all the restaurants and pubs. The descriptions of the five eateries are presented in an advertising-copy format. They
– Calamity Jane’s (burgers)
– Ike’s (Authentic Southern)
– MacKenzie’s Pub (Scottish fare)
– Augusta’s (seafood) with an emphasis on New Orleans Creole and Cajun food with décor
– Pavillion (club fare served in open air seating)
Access to the Berckmans Place complex includes the ability to test your putting skills on greens that replicate those on the 7th, 14th, and 16th holes, plus a fourth composite green. Scarcity results when there is an imbalance between supply and demand. Unlike the plentiful and low-priced chicken sandwiches and beer at the Masters, if you’re interested in the book about this new special place set within the ultimate special place . . . grab your wallet.
— John Sabino