LITCHFIELD, S.C. — Our route to South Carolina took us through Augusta, Ga., scene of this weeks’ Masters golf tournament and probably the greatest financial bonanza of all the country’s sports events. Signs are up all over the place directing “golf traffic,” and to say they’re needed is like saying the Masters is just another tournament.
Fans flock in and they spend great wads of money. Corporations pay up to $15,000 to rent a house for a week while the owners leave town, and there are about 2,000 such homes available. Hotel rooms that go for $70 on the average jump to $300 and more during the tournament week.
The visitors like to play golf as well as watch it, and local courses other than Augusta National, where the Masters is played, welcome them, sort of. Greens fees that normally are in the $30 to $50 range soar to as much as $500 per round, and tee times are hard to get.
Restaurants put away their regular menus and use special Masters menus that have fewer items and Paris prices. Souvenir prices are out of sight, but few leave without some of them.
The Augusta convention bureau says that during this week there will be 10,400 visitors in the city’s hotels and motels, another 8,000 in private homes, and about 25,000 driving into town each day. They will pump $109 million into the Augusta economy. Continue reading