Augusta businesses in disbelief after Masters postponement

Bernie McGuire
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Augusta businesses in disbelief after Masters postponement

Tiger Woods. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

For any golf fan, a first trip to Augusta National to watch the Masters is one of those ‘I’ve died and gone to heaven’ experiences.

There is nothing quite like the emotion at the first sight of the stately Augusta National clubhouse and admiring the immaculately maintained ‘Map of America’ garden with the flagstick positioned where you’ve always known it to be.

As you make your way onto the course, you’re immediately struck by elevation changes such as standing beside the 10th tee and thinking to yourself the par-4, 495-yard downhill ‘Camelia’ could double as an immediate ski run if located in the Colorado Rockies.

Then as you make your way about golf’s ‘Cathedral in the Pines’, you’re forever struck by the sheer beauty where there’s not a blade of grass out of place and not thinking for a second the land once housed a humble nursery.

It’s now late on the first day of your first visit to the Masters so time to head back to your greatly overpriced hotel room or the house that you and your friends have paid on average $5,000 for the week.

Masters week is a week for the local Augustinians to high tail it out town visiting relatives while all the time counting the easy-come ‘greenbacks’ that have found their way into their bank accounts.

There’s plenty of restaurants in the immediate vicinity of Augusta National and located along both sides of Washington Road including the ‘usual suspects’ to be found in any American city – Arby’s, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Texas Roadhouse, Taco Bell, Waffle House, Bonefish Grill, Chick-fila and Domino’s Pizza.

I’ve always said in my over 20 visits to the Masters since 1995 that you could blindfold someone, place them in the middle of Washington Road and in taking off the blindfold ask the question – ‘Now what town are you in?’

Though there is one restaurant that has identified with the Masters since 1986 and that’s the TBonz Steakhouse, a long-time hangout for players and caddies. Sadly, the decision to postpone the 2020 Masters has severely hurt TBonz.

TBonz enjoys a 65% increase in sales during Masters week and the restaurant has purchased 6,000lbs of Angus Beef in readiness for next month’s Masters – that’s aside from chicken, seafood, ribs and salad also ordered.

Mark Cummins is the owner of TBonz and he mirrors the remarks of all those ‘local’ businesses looking forward each year to Masters week.

“Just think of all the people who fly in from all over the world,” Cummins said to Golf Magazine.

“They rent a car to get here. They book hotels. They dine in restaurants. They buy trinkets from the local shops. The domino effect just goes on and on.”

His manager, Chris Wilson in speaking to a local TV network added: “The Masters is the best thing as it brings so much to the city of Augusta and the businesses.

“It’s a big event that brings out our best, but they know this year will be different and with the timing very important when the reschedule happens.”

Between Augusta National and TBonz is Hooters where you find John Daly’s motorised home parked outside with the double Major winner doing a great trade in selling his ‘Loudmouth’ line of clothing.

And clothing, in particular very tight-fitting clothing, ensures it’s always jam-packed at Hooters with the restaurant flying-in from all across the States ultra-glamourous waitresses to help feed and water the Masters multitude… I mean ‘Patrons’.

Hooters also conducts its annual Hooters Par-3 Bikini Contest and the Green Jacket Bikini Contest but the second week of April this year is going to be a very, very less vocal affair.

Havrid Usry and his family own multiple restaurants across Augusta like Fat Man’s Cafe, Sno-Cap and Southern Salad. He shares what he thought when he heard last Friday morning’s news:

“We thought initially that it would be spectator-less Masters, which would be a major blow to the local economy especially us folks in food and beverage and hospitality,” said Usry to local Augusta TV.

“So, we’re kinda, still sad that it’s not going to be the first full week of April, but we’re excited that it’s postponed and looking forward to hopefully a fall Masters, we will see.”

And Usry had been asked by a local Augusta TV station the worth of the Masters to the local area.

“It’s the equivalent of about two months of business for us in one week so when you eliminate that from your gross revenue, it’s a major impact,” said Usry.

Cassandra Brinson is the owner of the ‘209 On The River’ restaurant located along the Savannah River that divides Georgia from neighbouring South Carolina, and she was also interviewed by the same Augusta TV station on her reaction to last Friday’s news.

“I think it will make a drastic change for everybody,” Brinson said.

“After they made the announcement that they were going to cancel the Masters, I believe that it affected our daily crowd because we haven’t been busy all week.

“The Masters is the one week of the year that gives local restaurants a drastic boost in sales, which could make or break their business so the fact it looks as though will be held later in the year is going to make a major change.”

And a last word from Augusta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Bennish Brown who said they are still focused on providing the best possible experience for visitors.

“Our organisation will rebound and look at our priorities of how do we get overnight visitors here during the summer and during the other times of the year and certainly we will be listening for more information from Augusta National on exactly when they’ll decide to have the Masters later this year,” said Brown.

“We will work with our industry to make sure that we still have a great experience for people.”

MASTERS MATTERS:

Prizemoney 

$US 11.5m – Total purse for 2020 Masters (Up $US 1/2m on 2019)

$US 2.07m – First prize cheque (Up $US 72,000 on 2019)

Augusta National losses if 2020 Masters is cancelled

$US35m – Estimate revenue from ticket sales.

$US 25m – Cost of international broadcast rights to the Masters.

$US7m – Amount paid for Masters TV ad by each of the Augusta’s global sponsors (UPS, Rolex, AT & T, IBM, Mercedes-Benz & Delta Airlines.

TV Viewing

10.8m – Average number of people watching CBS TV coverage of the 2019 Masters.

18.3m – Number of people watching CBS TV final round coverage of Tiger Woods winning 2019 Masters.

Impact on Georgia golf economy

$US 2.8b – Estimated direct impact of golf to the Georgia State economy

57,000 – Number of golf-related jobs in Georgia

90% – Of all the world’s golf carts manufactured in Georgia

Augusta golf economy

$US 121m – Impact of the Masters on the Augusta area economy.

250,000 – Number of people who visit Augusta each year for the Masters.

89% – The occupancy rate for the 7,200 hotel rooms in the Augusta area

$US 305 – Average price for a night’s lodging during Masters week.

$US 220 – Cost per night at Knights Inn, Washington Rd, Augusta and easily one of the worst hotels in Augusta, if not, the USA.

$US 45 – Normal cost for a night’s lodging at ‘Disgusta’ and the Knights Inn, Augusta.

 

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