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Posted: 4:35 p.m. Friday, April 11, 2014

Augusta's two big attractions: Golf and shopping

2014 Masters
The arrow points the way to the main merchandise shop, which is just as big of an attraction of the golf course.

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2014 Masters photo
Jay Black, News/Talk WSB
This is just a third of the cash registers. There more than 60.
2014 Masters photo
Jay Black, News/Talk WSB
Yes there's flowers everywhere. Even by the merchandise store.

By Jay Black

AUGUSTA —

Make no mistake, the golf course is the star here at Augusta National.

"I came to see the golf course," said Reggie Collier of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. "This place right here, even without any of the golfers, is one of a kind."

"You can't beat it," said Sarah Kemp from Australia.

But as special as this golf course is, there are other obligations people have to take care of before the head to the first fairway.

"We went to the gift shop first," said Becky Bricker of Pennsylvania.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, welcome to Augusta National. Where everyone loves golf, everyone loves Amen Corner, and everyone goes shopping. It is just what you do.

"It's definitely a money maker on its own for Augusta," said Tony Morgan from Mississippi. "I'd like to get involved in that business."

Everyone shops because the swag, the status symbol, gives bragging rights.

"I was at the Masters. Hah."

The people here at Augusta National make it easy to get whatever a visitor is looking for. There are multiple hat and souvenir stands located around the course, but the big action happens at the main gate.

"It's chaotic," said Morgan. "Everyone is spending money."

There are hats. There are shirts. There are pullovers. A section for men and stuff for the ladies. The kids can are taken care of. The babies can get a teddy bear.

Belts, ties, Christmas ornaments, posters, cell phone cases are all there. Golf balls, ball markets, towels and head covers are also available for the golfers.

"Everything you want, everything you can dream of, with a Masters logo on it is in there," said Collier.

And since everyone at the Masters has to shop, and most of them do it at the big pro shop by the main gate, it is a packed.

"It is a ton of people," said Lanford Swann from South Carolina. "It is kind of get in and get out. You have to make a decision quick."

But it is not an ordeal. Everyone at the Masters is in a great mood so everyone behaves.

"The people are always so nice," said Bricker. "Everyone is absolutely so helpful."

There are more than 60 cash registers at the main pro shop. Unlike local grocery, there is a cashier at every one of them. And it's always beeping.

"I've done enough to keep the local economy flourishing for the next year," said Jack Hamilton from Boston.

Hamilton's story is like pretty much everyone here. Since this is the only place in the world to get a piece of the Masters, money does not appear to be a problem.

So how much did you spend?

"Oh way too much," said Swann. "And we were in there for a total of about 10 minutes."

"Everyone told us the average is about $200 but we are way above that," said Jack Shelton from Florida.

"400 dollars," said Collier. "And I'm the cheap one in my group.”

It takes some serious willpower not to spend some serious coin.

"About 50 bucks," said Bill Huggins of Athens. "I felt very lucky to get out of there with that."

But when your friends, family and co-workers find out you are going to the Masters you better deliver.

"Everybody that you run into wants something," said Hamilton. "It's what you do."

Unless you are a Masters veteran.

"I didn't tell anyone I was going for that reason," said Collier.

Here's a pro tip, from your humble reporter who learned this tip from another humble reporter. If you want to go shopping, go early. That means get it over with when you first get here. Or if you're coming for multiple days, don't wait. They do sell out.

While the prices are high, the patrons say they are fine.

"We felt like it was a good price. It's good quality shirts," said Swann. "It's about what we would pay at home."

That makes the hundreds or thousands of dollars people spend a little easier to bear.

"It's a once in a life time thing to get the merchandise," said Swann.

"This is something you don't do on a regular basis so you don't worry," said Bricker.

Because you're at the Masters.

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