Golf courses prepare for tough Masters

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock; March 9, 2009

AIKEN CTY, S.C. --- Soon the golf world will head to Augusta for the Masters and usually that means big bucks for other courses. But, that may not happen in this tough economy, as things aren't looking so green.

It seems not as many people will be taking their hacks on the Aiken County fairways during this Masters. But, not every course is yelling "fore" help.

For about 30 years, Berry Crain's been draining puts at Aiken's Palmetto Golf Club. "It's a challenge," he says. "Every hole is a little different."

So, too is this tough economy. But, the course is sticking to it's historic roots. "It's a unique club and a unique course and there's a lot of people that like to belong here and enjoy belonging here," says Berry.

As we approach the Masters, things are looking pretty green there too. "To this point, everything's been real good," says Club Director Tom Moore. He hopes those Masters Week Walk-ins, which make up about a third of the weeks money, will tee it up just like old times.

"Last year, we had the best year we've ever had," says Moore.

"It helps us financially and it gives them a chance to play a neat little golf course," Berry adds.

Just down the road, memberships aren't rolling in so smooth at Midland Valley Country Club. "We've seen an unusual turn away from members," says GM Rusty Flanders. He says, it's the biggest drop he's seen in 12 years at the club. So, he dropped some of the planned fees for the year.

Still, the greens will see a lot less ball marks this Masters. "We don't think any amount of marketing we do, can even increase it," says Rusty.

At North Augusta Country Club, more of the same. They've dropped their Masters rates this year a little bit. At The River Club in North Augusta, tee times for the Masters are way down.

It's a tough economy, putting some clubs in the money trap.

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