Police to monitor scalping of badges

Staff

Keep your distance or you could face a fine.

Hundreds of Richmond County sheriff's deputies will be on patrol at the Masters Tournament, and they will be watching for anyone selling badges too close to the main gates, according to Sheriff's Col. Gary Powell.

State law prohibits vendors from selling tickets within 2,700 feet of a venue where there are 15,000 or more in attendance, but police are most concerned with those who sell too close to entrance gates.

"The first time we warn them, and the second time we charge them," Col. Powell said, "and if we charge them, any tickets they have will be confiscated and returned to the Augusta National."

Those caught selling badges too close to Augusta National Golf Club could face a disorderly conduct charge and a fine of upward of $1,000, according to Nicole Hornsby, of the Richmond County Magistrate Court.

"There's really not a set fine on it," Ms. Hornsby said. "It depends on what the judge renders that day."

The boundaries roughly translate to Lake Olmstead Park in the east and Bertram Road to the west, with deputies keeping close watch for sellers in between, Col. Powell said. Because Augusta National acquired land for parking all the way to Stanley Drive, Col. Powell said, technically the boundary could be moved closer to Interstate 20, but right now Bertram Road will remain the cutoff point.

"Basically we use about half a mile from the main gate," he said.

Last year, 13 people were cited for selling badges too close to the tournament venue. Deputies tend to watch the entrances with telescopic lenses to catch those who wander too close.

"We have one or two out there all the time anyway, but we'll increase it if it gets pretty bad," he said.

Augusta National's ticket policy states that ticket-holders may not offer badges for sale or rent to any third-party reseller such as a ticket broker, travel agent or scalper.

Those who get their badges from such a seller may be barred from the tournament.

TICKET POLICY

The rules read, in part: Tickets may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes such as prizes, raffles, auctions, contests or sweepstakes. Augusta National Inc. is the only authorized seller of Masters tickets. Tickets may not be offered for sale ... to third-party resellers including ... ticket brokers, travel agents, hospitality entities or scalpers. Users of tickets acquired, by whatever means, from such parties may be excluded from attendance.

COMING SUNDAY

Look for our in-depth special section previewing the 2008 Masters Tournament.

GEORGIA LAW

Georgia code 43-4B-28 states, in part, that: "for all venues which seat or admit 15,000 or more persons, a ticket broker and its employees, agents, and assigns are criminally prohibited from reselling or offering for resale any ticket within 2,700 feet from the venue where an event or contest is to be held or is being held."