Augusta National joins forces with EA

Golfers longing to play Augusta National will get their opportunity this spring -- through an EA Sports video game.

Officials at the storied Georgia golf course, home to the annual Masters Tournament, announced Tuesday that Augusta National is joining forces with EA Sports to be part of its 2012 installment of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf game franchise.

The game will go on sale March 29, just a few weeks before the 75th playing of the Masters, and allow participants to "play" the Augusta National course by "qualifying" for and attempting to win the Masters. It will be available on Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation consoles.

Features in the Masters edition include a chance to beat each of Woods' 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.

"There are many new and unique elements in the game that will make everyone feel like they're really competing at Augusta National," Woods said in a statement. "This is great for the sport and will connect a new audience with the Masters, a tournament I've been fortunate to experience since 1995.

"Continually growing the visibility of golf is important to attracting newcomers to the sport, and I agree that showcasing the Masters Tournament in the game will bring an entirely new dimension to that approach."

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said that the Masters will be featured in the game as part of a bigger club initiative that will allow the tournament and the club to donate more money to charity.

Payne said the club has formed the Masters Tournament Foundation as a way of annually investing in development programs worldwide.

In recent years, the club has unveiled programs by which it gives back to the game through its Junior Pass Program (allowing those 16 and younger into the tournament for free with a paid adult), televising the annual Par 3 Contest on ESPN, co-founding (along with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews) the annual Asian Amateur Championship and giving a spot to the winner in the Masters, as well as annual contributions to the First Tee program and other golf organizations.

In the past 13 years, the Masters has donated more than $42 million to various charities, including those in and around the town of Augusta.

"The establishment of the Masters Tournament Foundation is central to fulfilling our responsibility of supporting the game's continuous growth around the world," Payne said in a statement. "This tradition, shaped by our founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, is the cornerstone of the Foundation's important commitment."

The Masters will receive proceeds from the EA Sports game, and will direct 100 percent of that money to its newly formed 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. "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. Equally important is its ability to help further the mission of the Masters Tournament Foundation with the entirety of its proceeds."

Bob Harig is the golf writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.