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Visitors can expect several changes and additions to the Augusta area since last April

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From today’s demise of a blue law to a new Kroc Cen­­ter, Augusta will appear a little different to the annual throngs of tourists
descending on the city this week for the Masters Tour­nament.

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Lee Jones (left) and Herb Jones deliver liquor to Stevens Creek Wine & Spirits in Augusta. As of today, Sunday retail alcohol sales are legal in Richmond County.  JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Lee Jones (left) and Herb Jones deliver liquor to Stevens Creek Wine & Spirits in Augusta. As of today, Sunday retail alcohol sales are legal in Richmond County.

Richmond County voters shrugged off an age-old prohibition against Sunday retail alcohol sales last month, making Augusta-Richmond County the only metro jurisdiction besides neighboring Grovetown to allow Sunday sales, effective today.

The change was embraced for the convenience it will offer consumers by groceries, wholesale and convenience stores, most of which will flip the lights on in their beer coolers at 12:30 p.m. today for the first time.

It wasn’t as popular with liquor store owners such as Phillip Song, the owner of Superstar Wine & Spirits in south Augusta. Song welcomed Sundays as the single day he has each week to spend with family and campaigned against the referendum, posting “Vote No on Sunday Sales” on his sign before the vote.

Active with the Korean Liquor Association, which represents at least 17 stores around Augusta, Song said he won’t open today or on future Sundays unless his sales drop.


New to the unfortunate tourist who has a brush with crime during this year’s tournament is the Augusta-Richmond County Judicial Building and John H. Ruffin Jr. Courthouse, the $67 million new home of the Augusta judiciary.

The 200,000-square-foot structure on James Brown Boulevard at Walton Way opened to great fanfare last May with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as guest speaker.

Some city officials were less than enthused when the conservative justice was invited to speak at the opening of a courthouse named for Ruffin, a late Augusta civil rights attorney and the first black chief judge of the Georgia Court of Ap­peals.

The soon-to-be remodeled Municipal Building on Greene Street previously housed Augusta’s judges, courtrooms, prosecutors and court records.

Golf course

New for golfer tourists seeking to play a round or two is management at Augusta Mu­nicipal Golf Course, affectionately known as “The Patch.”

Brian Hendry, an Aber­deen, Scotland, native who frequents Augusta, took over management at the course Jan. 1 with special plans for Masters Week.

Hendry has made some improvements and added Scottish touches, including golf pro Ronnie MacDonald. He will entertain some Eu­ro­pean golf visitors at the course this week and run a shuttle between The Patch and Au­gusta National Golf Club, he said.

“People will visit the Patch that have never visited it before,” Hendry said.

Designed by Scotsman David Ogilvie, who was then head pro at Augusta Country Club, the 1926 course is a piece of “wonderful Scottish history” Hendry intends to celebrate.

Activity center

Last fall saw the opening of a $107 million Salvation Army Kroc Center, named for McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc, whose estate provided much of the money for the project.

The center, one of a handful around the U.S., occupies 17 acres and 100,000 square feet in Augusta’s historic Har­risburg mill community and offers indoor swimming and a host of other
community activities and services.

The center, which was completed after a local fundraising campaign raised about $30 million, became the model for Kroc Centers in the works nationwide, officials said.

As a boon to tourists and locals alike, the center is offering special Masters Week memberships to visitors seeking a place to swim or work out or otherwise explore the Kroc, center community relations manager Anthony Esposito said.

Parking garage

Tourists who venture downtown and need a place to park will find Augusta’s new six-floor, 650-space parking garage at Ninth and Reynolds streets, which opened last fall.

The $12 million structure, already garnering architectural design awards, is intended to provide parking for the adjoining Trade, Exhibit and Event Center under construction, but its upper five levels are available for public use 24 hours a day.


Also open to Masters visitors is Augusta’s new Costco. The membership wholesale store at Alexander Drive and River Watch Parkway brought 200 jobs and an estimated $135 million in annual sales taxes to Augusta when it opened Nov. 15.

Store Assistant General Manager Brandon Laughlin said the Augusta Costco is anticipating out-of-town members and locals alike to drop by during Masters Week, where Costco also will offer them a first taste of Sun­day retail alcohol sales in Augusta.

Music pavilion

Visitors who are musically inclined can check out Columbia County’s tribute to country music trio Lady Antebellum, whose Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood grew up in the suburban county.

Lady Antebellum Pavil­ion opened at Evans Towne Center Park on Oct. 28 with a concert by the group.

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nanowerx 04/01/12 - 09:53 am
"Song welcomed Sundays as the

"Song welcomed Sundays as the single day he has each week to spend with family and campaigned against the referendum, posting “Vote No on Sunday Sales” on his sign before the vote."

Because if Sunday sales are legal, you will be FORCED to open your store and sell on that day, so best to campaign against it since it inconveniences you!! The idiocy of people astounds me.

Augusta resident
Augusta resident 04/01/12 - 10:59 am
They left out the most

They left out the most important part. The upgrade of Alexander Dr, it's now 4 lanes. They even changed one of the left turn lanes to a go straight to Stanley Dr only lane. I hope they change that back next week by the way.
If you are a business owner and don't want to work Sunday, don't work Sunday. Hire someone to run the place that day cheapscape.
Costco is a plus if you get your meds filled there. The liquor store is not Costco, anyone can shop in that part of the building. You do however need a to be a member to get gas.

SCV Sam 04/05/12 - 08:11 pm
The selling of demon rum on

The selling of demon rum on our Lord's Day is a crying shame and another sign to the rest of the world of how far Augusta has fallen. Does it seem the sin and crime and anti-family elements, including the booze and drugs, have only gotten worse under this our current foreign-borne "president"?

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