Event planners say Masters week crowds hard to come by


Broad Street

Downtown was hopping as visitors came to the Par 3 Party at Augusta Common. (April 6, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 11 / Friday, March 7, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Masters week is now a month away, and in years past, this was crunch time for local event planners. The problem is this year, there just aren't as many events to plan.

Already, the Mayor's Masters reception and the Par 3 Party have been cancelled.

How, during Augusta's busiest week, could it be hard to draw a crowd?

Even with thousands in town, event planners say that doesn't mean thousands are going out, and no one wants a sub-par event.

"Masters week is a big question mark," said Barry Smith of Columbia County Leisure Services.

Spending a beautiful Spring day on the course is what rakes in thousands to Augusta every Masters week.

Once the sun starts setting, the party's just begun, at least in years past.

But this year, the Mayor's Masters Reception, Par 3 Party, and the Columbia County Championship Festival are all gone.

"It'll be different. It'll be a transition year," said Carly Kobasiar, Augusta Convention & Visitor's Bureau.

While there aren't any solid numbers to how many thousands we bring in, we do know this.

"A lot of the businesses and restaurants bring in enough revenue during that one week to equate to a 13th month of the year," Kobasiar said.

That's pretty good business, so it begs the question: If not Masters week, then when?

"Masters is a touchy week. You never know. There's a lot of competing things going on Masters week," Smith said.

Barry Smith is in charge of Columbia County's Leisure Services, but he spent many years planning events in Augusta and says with all the corporate parties, catering, and competing events, getting people to come to yours, is a challenge.

"Masters week is sometimes hard to bring a crowd," he said. "It's hard to predict advanced sales because there may be something else they want to do or something else that comes up."

After cancelling the Mayor's Masters Reception, the Committee says they've gotten lots of disappointed feedback, which is much the reason they cancelled it in the first place.

They said they felt like they had raised the bar so high, that without a big name to honor, the community would be disappointed with the event.

All the cancellations have made room for a new event, though. It's called the Major Rager, and it's scheduled to rock the river front at the Jessye Norman Amphitheater.

"Umphrey's McGee and Moon Taxi. So it's a double header. I understand there's going to be a food truck or two," Kobasiar said.

Their Facebook page already says more than 200 are going.

So, as some events are laid to rest, others are just tee-ing off. Bottom line, during Masters week, no one wants to end up in the bunker.


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