During his 16-year career at the Augusta National Golf Club, Will Jones (BBA '88) has developed into an important part of the senior management team that has tripled the number of countries that view the famed Masters golf tournament. Working at the behest of another Georgia football letterman, Augusta National Club Chairman William P. "Billy" Payne, Jones is charged with developing tournament marketing and sponsorship deals that enrich the future of the Masters while at the same time adhering to the long-standing traditions of Augusta National.
The Masters has been played at Augusta National since 1934, just a year after the club opened, and it is one of the signature events in the world of sports. During tournament week, Jones serves predominantly as the club's technical liaison with world broadcasters on site. He wears a multitude of different hats the other 51 weeks of the year. During summer months, when Augusta National is closed, Jones and his colleagues turn into frequent flyers, cementing current sponsorship deals and negotiating new ones. First and foremost, he meets with the tournament's three global sponsors — AT&T, IBM, and Exxon Mobil — and with its two international partners, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex. Jones monitors Augusta National's global trademark program and works closely with the club's corporate attorneys in legal matters like the defense of trademarks. Jones is also responsible for developing new business opportunities for the tournament such as mobile phone rights, Internet services, and international licensing.
For someone who didn't travel much as a kid growing up in McDonough, Ga., it's worth noting that Jones has had to renew his current passport twice. Asked whether his world travels have made him fluent in other languages, Jones answers in an educated drawl, the pitch-perfect tenor of Augusta National: "Je parle un peu français...I know just enough to get to the restaurant."
Jones' trips take him round the world with stops in places like South Korea, where he met with one of Augusta National's TV partners, Seoul Broadcasting System. After viewing SBS's broadcasts of the previous year's tournament, he said, through a translator, "Hey, that was a great promotional. But you're using K.J. Choi too much. We want it to be about the Masters and not just K.J. Choi."
Weaving his way through crowded airport terminala with the agility of someone who roamed the Georgia Bulldogs' defensive backfield in the late 1980s, the 6'3" Jones has shed 25 pounds from his college playing weight and is close to the lean buck-ninety that prep football fans remember him carrying when he was Mr. Everything at Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga. Now 42, Jones still has the same square jaw, the same enduring brown hairline, and the same boyish face that he had when he made a key interception to save the South Carolina game for Georgia back in 1987. The uniform is different now, with gray pin stripes replacing the red and black he wore between the hedges. But Jones' station in life is no less enviable.