Augusta National is Evolving at a Remarkable Pace
Fifteen years ago the Augusta National announced it would forego advertising for the second straight year. This was after Martha Burke held a makeshift, sparsely attended news conference demanding Augusta National admit female members.
Today, where Burke stood is a construction zone. Tunnels will soon link the former San Souci apartment acreage to the Augusta National. Not only does the National have two female members now, this year is the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur will play its final round at Augusta National the Saturday before practice rounds begin.
It takes quite an imagination to envision the changes that will be occurring over next fifteen years for the golf course and the city.
Around the time of the Burke fiasco, the leadership at the National decided they needed to tighten down on the circus atmosphere that surrounded the freshly painted white brick gates of the Washington Road property.
The Augusta National made no secret of its disdain for the pesky scalpers, men on cellular phones in beat up cars descending on Washington Road each year, harassing patrons and causing all sorts of problems.
Technology and a change in the state laws regarding ticket scalping has made an impact on the secondary market. Insiders say with facial recognition technology and other high tech tricks, ticket integrity will soon be pretty rock solid.
What was not very clear at the time was Augusta National’s desire also included getting rid of the corporate hospitality hustle as well. They wanted it to go away.
Over the past fifteen years the ANGC has purchased many hospitality homes and torn them down.
Then with the opening of Berkman’s Place, the future of the club revealed itself.
The Disneyland of Golf as if run by Four Seasons.
To date, the Augusta National has acquired enough land to fan out and do what they do best… make necessary and sometimes bold decisions in the best interest of the Club.
Patience has always been a key component of their negotiating tactics when it comes to land acquisitions, yet word is there is more a sense of urgency these past few years.
The bombshell news that has recently come out is the National’s desire to have its very own exit off I-20 straight onto the Augusta National, no need to pass go. The idea that has been floated would have Masters guests taking the Augusta National exit just before the Washington Road exit and run them parallel to Boy Scout Road, then follow the Rae’s Creek bed to their parking lot.
While the Riverwatch exit does lead to the course, there are many issues with the configuration of the exit and the traffic flow on I-20.
Also, the National doesn’t control the cars until they break Washington Road, and that is an expensive and potentially dangerous pedestrian problem.
With cars exiting the interstate directly onto Augusta National property, the reduction in labor costs for the hundreds of people-the thousands of man hours-and cars on the streets surrounding the Augusta National, would be greatly reduced.
Insiders speculate that the investment would pay off in the long term.
What isn’t as clear is the economic impact the new route would have on Augusta’s small businesses who benefit from all the traffic and visitors.
Word is, Augusta National will act sooner rather than later.
Remember, this is the same organization that was granted the right to reroute a public road them damn selves, and did it ahead of schedule and under budget.
As the National themselves state, “Augusta National Golf Club is a marathon, not a sprint, and can calibrate appropriately.”
The wealth, affluence and power is not going anywhere anytime soon. Well, ever actually.
So get ready Augusta. You are certain to be astonished by the quiet forceful power of the Augusta National in the not too distant future.