The greatest show on earth

Hank Segars

Lakelife Associate Editor

 

The Masters Tournament is well underway and cash registers are ringing all over Lake Country, and everywhere else within driving distance of Augusta. Gas stations, restaurants, golf courses and various businesses are enjoying this week of strong sales. This week’s annual migration to professional golf’s greatest tournament also brings along some price increases.

 

The economic impact of this tournament is large and difficult to calculate. Hotels sell out in Madison and even as far away as Covington, 115 miles from the famous gates of Augusta National. Tee times at Lake Country golf courses are booked solid, and residents know to arrive early at local restaurants in order to beat the crowds returning from Augusta.

Georgia Public Television and other media outlets estimate that nearly a quarter of a million people visit Augusta annually, and convention and visitor bureau officials estimate the economic spending to be $110 million. (And those numbers are probably too conservative.)

“The Augusta area’s hospitality industry considers Masters Week a 13th month in terms of revenue received,” reports Steve Mona, CEO of the World Golf Foundation. “Some hotels make up to 20 percent of their annual revenue that week. . . The area’s 7,200 hotel rooms will have a 98 percent occupancy rate, and almost that many private bedrooms are available for lease during Masters Week.”

Masters week is also a gold mine for the state of South Carolina. “Though the Masters is in Augusta,” notes Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, “its location on the South Carolina border means that the Palmetto State gets probably 30 to 40 percent of its $110-$115 million economic impact through gas purchases, restaurant sales and hotel and home rentals from North Augusta to Aiken on up to and past Columbia.”

In other words, the impact of the Masters Tournament’s location in Augusta is bigger than we might realize. The man we can thank the most for choosing this location is Bobby Jones, the legendary sportsman who placed professional golf -- and the state of Georgia – in the international spotlight.

Playing most of his career as an amateur, Jones, is celebrated for winning 13 major championships to include his greatest achievement -- the Grand Slam of 1930. And during the Great Depression, the Atlanta native’s uncanny vision of turning undistinguished rural land in Richmond County into the world’s most prestigious golf club is nothing less than astounding.

The economic impact and decades of publicity continues to bring incalculable benefits for Augusta, nearby areas and the state of Georgia.

As we are now watching the formidable competition take place at the Masters, television announcers are mentioning Bobby Jones and reporting on the sheer beauty and historic traditions of Augusta National. Not much is said about what the famous tournament means financially to the state and region; that might be impolite.

Nevertheless, here in Lake Country and across the nation, sports fans understand that during this week . . . we are witnessing the greatest show on earth.

And here's a couple of the greatest shots in the history of the tournament. 

 

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