Prepping for extra week of golf as Masters patrons ready for Augusta

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Monday, March 25, 2019
News 12 at 11

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It might seem like a normal night right now but in two weeks time, Augusta will be bumper to bumper with Masters traffic.

The businesses might start even earlier this year, with events like the Women's Amateur Tournament coming to Champions Retreat in Evans the week before.

Golf week has now turned into two.

"I know there's a lot of excitement in the community, people are really looking forward to it, and they're excited to be a part of history," said Shelly Blackburn.

From drive, chip and putt, now to hosting the Inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur, Champions Retreat is now an even bigger part of the Master’s week mix.

“I'd say the first impression is everything," said Blackburn.

Shelly Blackburn with the Columbia County Visitor's Bureau says they're expecting a boom.

"We do anticipate a 15% increase in occupancy next week," said Blackburn.

She knows that her county isn't the only place that will benefit from the festivities starting early.

"When visitors come to town, they stay in hotels, they buy fuel at our gas stations, they eat in our restaurants, they shop," said Blackburn.

All across the area, people are prepping for what will now be the biggest two weeks all year is a top focus.

"That's part of the excitement, is not knowing what exactly is going to be coming to this community in a week's time," said Blackburn.

It all starts at Champions Retreat but it ends with the final round at Augusta National.

"The events at Champions Retreat will be limited to players, their families, of course, members out at champions retreat and some public patrons," said Blackburn.

It's a whole extra week for local hotels to cash in as springtime in Augusta grows to two weeks.

Another element that could change things around for next week is that kids who staff restaurants and other venues during Masters still won't be out of school when crowds start arriving for this new event.

News 12 spoke with members of the Augusta Chamber who say they don't think it will be too much of an adjustment and expect business to continue as usual with the bulk of the crowds still waiting until the big tournament comes to town.