Early start at Augusta National could mean big bucks for Augusta

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News 12 11pm / Monday, April 14, 2014

Augusta, Ga. (WRDW) -- By now the last of our Masters guests have probably headed home, but their money is still here. The week long tournament brings in millions of tourism dollars, but as News 12 reports this year may top all the others.

The Drive, Chip, and Putt Championship made it's debut last Sunday and while some of those kids may one day compete for the Green Jacket, business all over Augusta were competing for the cash their families were spending a day earlier.

This year's Masters fun started a day earlier with kids getting a shot at the Augusta National, even before the pro's. Junior golfers competed in the first Drive, Chip, and Putt championship, which meant an extra day in Augusta for all those families.

"That Sunday in particular was much better than usual for me," said Ashley Taylor.

Taylor works as a bartender in downtown Augusta. She says the gates opening a day earlier at Augusta National meant more people were opening their wallets at Mellow Mushroom .

"That whole extra day of more people coming really made it a difference," she told News 12.

"We saw as many visitors this year as we've ever seen," said Carly Kobasiar, with the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Kobasiar says they are not sure how much Augusta benefited from the extra day, but there's no doubt patrons pulled out the dough.

"An extra day of competition means and extra day of spending. So, most likely those people are staying in a hotel an extra night, eating two or three more meals than they would have other wise, and they are renting a car for a day longer," she told News 12.

The numbers are still being crunched on how much Drive, Chip & Putt meant to the city and it's businesses. But it if you want something to gauge just read what a typical Masters week means for places like Mellow Mushroom.

"What they bring in those 7 days could equal what they bring in on normal month any other day of the year," Kobasiar told News 12.

Which is something that brings a smile to bartenders like Taylor.

"It means more money for me," she told News 12

Restaurants and bars weren't the only ones racking in the cash, hotels did too. The new Holiday Inn Express in downtown Augusta was booked solid for Masters week, even though they had 65 rooms open just a few days before the kids kicked things off on Sunday.

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