A few weeks back I visited my hometown for the first time in nearly a decade. I decided to write about the trip because, quite frankly, being away from Augusta for 10 days left me little else to write about.
In case you missed it, the piece focused on the socio-economic changes that followed the loss of the town’s sole industry several years ago.
The hotels are empty. The street vendors are gone. The limos and vans are back in their garages. The golf fans have all gone home.
All that remains of the 2008 Masters Tournament is the money still circulating around the Augusta economy. How much money?
That’s a common question, but one that’s tricky to answer.
When I covered my first Red Carpet Tour in 1998, I practically knew everything about it before ever stepping foot inside the hospitality tent on the far southwestern corner of the Augusta National Golf Club property.
OUT WITH THE CADDY, IN WITH THE BENZ: White DeVilles have given way to silver GL 550s.
Masters visitors have noticed the change in courtesy cars as the Augusta National Golf Club has selected Mercedes-Benz as the exclusive provider of transportation services for the Tournament. For decades, Cadillac – a former broadcast sponsor – was the official courtesy car for players and other Tournament VIPs.
SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: If the Masters Tournament had a smell, what smell would it be?
Ask that question to 1,000 people and you’re likely to get 1,000 different answers. If you asked me, I would say it smells like a cigar.
Everyone*, it seems, is smoking a stogie.
There are roughly a half-dozen tents selling cigars outside the gates of the Augusta National Golf Club, and all are doing brisk business.
PRICEY PARKING: Parking lots were filled up quickly Monday at paid lots all around the Augusta National property except for one: the National Hills shopping center.
The $40 price posted to park at the property, which was acquired last year by an Atlanta-based retail developer, is now the high watermark for Masters Week parking prices.
Business Reporter LaTina Emerson’s feature story on Thompson Building Wrecking Co. Inc. this week yielded more than just 50 years of family business history – some bona fide ghost stories were told.
The company’s president, Hiram Thompson, said two of his employees have sworn they experienced paranormal activity while working at the Forrest Hills-Ricker Hotel/Oliver General Hospital building near Forest Hills Golf Club.
The first occurred in 1987, when the historic hotel-turned-Veterans Administration hospital and 32 smaller buildings were being torn down.
The first week of April is nearly on us, and you know what that means.
That’s right: A major media outlet somewhere is working on its (insert Stone Phillips voice here) “other side of Augusta” story.
You know what I’m talking about. Nearly every year a major newspaper or magazine publishes a story during Masters Week, pointing out how most of Augusta is not as classy as the venerable Masters Tournament or as picturesque as Amen Corner.
Local reaction to these stories (even after all these years) falls into three basic categories:
If you think alcohol is made for drinking and not for pumping into your gas tank, you might be a little miffed at what’s going on around town: Ethanol-blended fuel has arrived.
Many fuel pumps in the area are sporting stickers proclaiming that the fuel they dispense might contain up to 10 percent ethanol, a blend known in many parts of the country – mostly the Midwest – as E10.
Editor’s Note: The Augusta-area business news, issues and gossip normally found in Scuttlebiz is absent this week because business editor Damon Cline was out of town. Instead, he offers the following account of his visit to his hometown. Mr. Cline apologizes to readers interested exclusively in Augusta-area topics and urges them to read next week’s Scuttlebiz.
SAN MANUEL, Ariz. — It’s eerily quiet in this high desert town.