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Price of Masters badges increases 40%

The cost of attending the Masters Tournament just went up 40 percent -- from $125 in 2003 to $175 for the 2004 tournament.

Patrons on the coveted tournament series badge list were notified of the increase Friday when they received application renewals for the 2004 tournament, scheduled for April 8-11 at Augusta National Golf Club.

It is the largest jump in the history of the tournament, which started in 1934. The biggest jump had been $25, when the price increased to $125 in 2001.

The increase is only the second in the past 11 years.

"We think our patrons still receive outstanding value for their money," Glenn Greenspan, the club's director of communications, said Friday night.

Mr. Greenspan said the increase was not related to the rainout of the Monday, April 7, practice round at the 2003 Masters, which cost the club more than $1 million in ticket refunds and loss of souvenir and concession sales.

"Not at all -- absolutely not," he said. He attributed the increase to normal business operations.

This is the fourth price increase in the past 15 years. A series badge went from $85 to $90 in 1989, to $100 in 1993 and to $125 in 2001.

Patrons might have expected the increase was coming. Starting in 1995, when practice round tickets were pre-sold for the first time, every time the price of those tickets has gone up, so has the cost of series badges.

In mid-June, the club announced a price increase for the April 7- 9 practice rounds. The Monday-Tuesday prices went from $21 to $31, and the price of Wednesday tickets increased from $26 to $36.

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