Masters Tournament Foundation Donations Drop 37% to $4.3 Million

Donations to the Masters Tournament Foundation slumped 37 percent in 2012 as benefactors didn’t make follow-up gifts to the charity created by the private club that hosts the first of golf’s four annual major tournaments.

The foundation’s donations dropped to $4.3 million in the 2012 tax year from $6.8 million in 2011, its first year of operation, according to tax records. Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters, gave $3.2 million, the single biggest gift and a $300,000 increase from a year earlier.

Club Chairman Billy Payne said the decrease in donations was a direct result of the success the first year.

“I have a very simple answer,” Payne said in a press conference today at the club. “The donations went down because the first year we started it, all the members got a little encouragement from the chairman to donate. So when the second year rolled around, there wasn’t anybody left but the new members. So that’s the phenomena you saw.”

Stanley Druckenmiller, one of the best-performing hedge-fund managers of the past three decades and an avid golfer, was among 34 people who didn’t follow 2011 donations with another the following year. Tax records filed for the foundation show 24 people or organizations made gifts in 2012.

“You don’t fill up your tank when its 3/4 full, you fill it up when it’s 3/4 empty,” said Andrew Morton, a Chicago-based philanthropy attorney and chairman of the Sports & Entertainment Law Group at Handler Thayer LLP. “I suspect that’s how this organization is going to operate.”

Golf Initiatives

The foundation gave $1.7 million to eight golf groups, including $1 million to the World Golf Foundation, the same totals from a year earlier. Outgoing donations accounted for 39 percent of the foundation’s revenue in 2012, 34 percent more than legally required under tax law, according to Morton.

“Their grant-making activity is far exceeding their legal requirement,” Morton said.

The foundation was created to fund global golf initiatives by the Augusta, Georgia, club. This year’s Masters begins tomorrow.

The club created the Asian Amateur Championship in 2009 and a similar amateur event in Latin America this year, to be played beginning in 2015. Winners of the events earn playing spots in the Masters.

Payne said donations to fund such events come from the club’s “overall financial success.”

“We essentially give as much as we can every year, and then try as best we can to use that money in our grow-the-game efforts,” Payne said. “It is our intention going forward to be very substantial contributors to our Foundation.”

New Donors

New foundation donors in 2012 included Atlanta Braves Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk ($100,000); C. Pardee Erdman, a Hawaii ranch owner and wine and pineapple executive; and Sir Ronald Hampel, chairman of London-based International Stadia Group and a member of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews ($25,000).

Most of the foundation’s funds are generated through tournament-related proceeds and licensing agreements.

Along with Druckenmiller, 2011 donors who weren’t listed as contributors in 2012 included former International Business Machines Corp. Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano ($50,000 in 2011); John Harris, a North Carolina real-estate developer and president of Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club ($100,000); Craig Heatley, founder of New Zealand’s Sky Network Television ($100,000); and Rob Johnston, an Atlanta apartment developer and operator ($100,000).

No Women

Payne, who donated $100,000 in 2011 through his Beard-Payne Family Foundation, was not listed as a 2012 donor, nor was James Dunne III, senior managing principal at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP. Dunne gave $100,000 to the foundation in 2011 through his New York-based Cypress Foundation Inc.

Morris Communications Co., the closely held media company founded by Augusta member Billy Morris, also didn’t donate a year after giving $10,000.

For the second consecutive year, no women gave individually to the foundation.

As it did in 2011, the foundation gave $100,000 to the LPGA Foundation, the charity arm of the world’s leading women’s golf tour. It was the same amount the foundation gave to the PGA Foundation and the charities of the U.S. Golf Association and PGA Tour.

The 81-year-old club also gave $200,000 to the Augusta chapter of the First Tee, a national organization that uses golf to promote leadership and education among children.

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