Normal Masters tournament back in Augusta after 2 years away
All the pieces are falling into place for the return of a “normal” masters week to Augusta. But the return, after two years without it, is far from normal.
The COVID-19 pandemic postponed the 2020 Masters Tournament from April to November and a no-boss event, then kept the number of bosses to a minimum for the 2021 tournament. is what various outlets say is an estimated $100 million impact on the region’s economy.
“Everyone is ready for a return to normal,” said Cal Wray, executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority. Although Augusta National Golf Club never releases the number of badges it issues, it predicts the number will be the same as in 2019.
And the Augusta Women’s National Amateur Championship and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals mean more visitors are entering Augusta National Golf Club before practice rounds Monday through Wednesday, the Par-3 contest on Wednesday, and tournament play Thursday through Sunday.
“It’s always special, but I think this year will be something very special,” Wray said. “There seems to be a higher level of excitement – to see what the National does, how they run the tournament and deliver the experience.”
Demand to attend an off-course Masters Week event, the Rock Fore! The dough concert scheduled for April 5 was strong this year. GlueStick Music event producer Emily Stevenson says ticket sales have already surpassed 2019, last year the fundraiser was a live event; virtual events have kept it going in 2020 and 2021.
“Certainly people are excited to come back and have the traditional things that they’re looking forward to doing,” she said.
This includes artists, who she says volunteer their time for fundraising that benefits First Tee Augusta. The 2022 lineup includes Darius Rucker, Jordan Davis and Ray Fulcher. Also in attendance will be Augusta-area native Charles Kelley of country trio Lady A.
“One thing to emphasize is that the artists who come Rock Forward! Pastry volunteer their time,” Stevenson said. “Everyone has their cause… we were able to find those who love golf. These artists care about golf, about First Tee – it’s huge that we have so many artists willing to do that to put on this show for Augusta.”
Pent-up request for Masters Tournament
The tournament will provide a long-awaited boost to area businesses that have been impacted during the pandemic, said Robbie Bennett, executive director of the Columbia County Economic Development Authority.
“This is the real return to normal for them. When the pandemic first hit, we did some surveys and learned that many of them depend on Masters for 60% of their annual sales” , Bennett said.
“I see this comeback as a positive celebration, if you will, for everyone,” he said. “Golfers are happy to have the fans back, people in the hospitality industry are happy to have those resources back.”
Augusta’s tourism manager shared that enthusiasm.
“You hear the words pent-up demand until people get tired of hearing it,” said Bennish Brown, executive director of Destination Augusta, formerly known as the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“This year, we know it’s the Masters that everyone’s been used to for all these years,” Brown said. “We are more than delighted. You have these hardcore fans and people who love golf. But it’s not just about golf, it’s such a tradition. For us, this is an opportunity to showcase our city.
The CVB is monitoring the city’s hospitality industry, which has been hit hard during the pandemic and may still be short of staff. Richmond County’s roughly 6,500 hotel rooms are generally filling up, and the new Hyatt House will have its first full experience after opening for Masters Week 2019, as will the renovated Partridge Inn, which reopened last week.
Back on the red carpet
“Normal” Masters also means the return of the Georgia Red Carpet Tour, hosted by the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Business and industry leaders from around the world attend the event, which showcases the state and region, but hasn’t taken place since 2019.
“Georgia is still No. 1 for business in the country this year,” said Sue Parr, Augusta Chamber’s executive director. “When you have the major project announcements we’ve had over the past two years, there’s tons of excitement from companies around the world wanting to know what Georgia is doing.”
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The return of full participation in a Masters tournament makes being there even more special, Parr said.
“There’s just a lot of excitement coming into the tournament,” she said. “When people couldn’t go, you know, you don’t know you missed something until it’s gone. And now you really want to take every opportunity.”
Downtown Augusta was also happy with the return. “We are thrilled to once again be able to showcase Downtown Augusta to potential developers and investors. Our goal is to strengthen relationships that began before the pandemic and create new ones,” said Margaret Woodard, director of the Augusta Downtown Development Authority.
Resumption of rentals, route plans
The chamber operates the Masters Housing Bureau. There has been strong interest in residents renting out their homes, including many new owners entering the market during the recent property boom, she said.
The office reached out to these new homeowners last fall, urging them to rent out their homes and do so in the most cost-effective way, Parr said. Companies will spend thousands, for example, on a house that a handful of executives can reside in during the week.
The return to a regular Masters tournament means the government of Augusta is implementing its traffic plan, to avoid the gridlock of thousands of vehicles trying to reach or leave the golf club. The new roundabout at Berckmans Road and Ingleside Drive, located down the hill from the club, will see its first test with Masters traffic.
The Augusta-Richmond County government has made no announcement regarding the resurrection of long-running Masters Week community events, such as the Masters Mayors Reception.
Apart from the Rock Fore! Dough show early during Masters Week, another must-see, the Major Rager concert will also return to round out the festivities this Saturday. This year’s show features Futurebirds at the Sharon Jones Amphitheater in North Augusta.
XPR Augusta, a new multi-day concert series featuring Jimmy Buffett, Blake Shelton, Nelly and others was in the works for Lake Olmstead Park but was recently canceled after event planner C4 Live said that the venue was too unstable to support its stages and VIP area. .