We made the decision at the end of last year,” Els told Reuters at the Kapalua Resort. “Mike’s a nice quiet guy and I like to have a guy like that. I just wanted to make a change and have a guy who is a little different from what I have had before. He’s a low-key, relaxed kid. And he’s a good caddie.
The South African has had good friend Roberts alongside him for most of his professional career, and last year the duty was shared with former ice hockey star Dan Quinn.
The move is part of a broader effort by the club to increase interest in golf around the world, especially among youth. In his four years as club chairman, Billy Payne started a program in which juniors can attend the Masters for free with an adult who has a season badge and televised the Par 3 tournament.
Payne also announced Tuesday the “Masters Tournament Foundation,” a charity arm that will allow Augusta National to invest in developmental programs around the world. Payne said all proceeds from the EA Sports game would go into the new foundation.
“Our desire to help grow the game of golf throughout the world is sincere, and it is that commitment that first led us to EA Sports more than three years ago,” Payne said in a statement. “EA Sports, Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour have developed an extremely successful franchise that responds to one of the popular entertainment choices of kids today. We hope our inclusion will foster an appreciation for the history and traditions of the Masters and inspire the next generation of golfers.”
Payne first raised the idea of the Masters being part of video games two years ago while expanding the multimedia aspect of the tournament’s website.
EA Sports, however, offered a technology that was hard to ignore. It developed a laser scanning technology that could capture every detail, from the sharp changes in elevation to the bloom on azaleas and dogwoods.
Peter Moore, the EA Sports president, said he has been in contact with Augusta National for the last three years. It took 10 days to laser the course, and the entire project took the equivalent of 10 people working around the clock for a full year on nothing but Augusta National.
Features in the Masters edition include a chance to beat Ping G15 Fairway Wood four scores when he won the green jacket and advice from an Augusta caddie. It also will include announcing from Jim Nantz and David Feherty of CBS Sports.
Payne has tried to broaden the appeal of the Masters during his tenure. He has expanded by one hour the weekday coverage on ESPN, and he added one hour of coverage before the telecast each day through live streaming on the website, along with live video of Amen Corner and the 15th and 16th holes.
Augusta National and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club also collaborated in creating the Asia Pacific Amateur, in which the winner is awarded an invitation to the Masters. Moore declined to discuss conditions of the deal with Augusta National, only that the hope is to continue with new editions.
“The focus is on whatever proceeds they’re plowing into the foundation,” Moore said. “It’s unusual for a licensee to publicly state that.”