Recession woes not visible at Masters - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Recession woes not visible at Masters

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

AUGUSTA, GA (WTOC) - This year's Masters tournament can be summed up in two words and they're not, "where's Tiger?"

They're, "what recession?"

"I don't know," said Charlie Hellem, whose Que N View barbeque stand is located across the street from Augusta National. "I thought people who go to the Masters are recession proof, aren't they?''

It certainly seems so.

Naturally, the same number of people are here as in the past. Because nobody's going to give up the toughest ticket sports.

But it might be a little surprising how Masters fans are apparently choosing not to participate in the current economic downturn, most spending money to get to Augusta only spend much more once inside.

"Oh, this is about $1,500 of good times, of memories,'' said Masters fan Kirk Klassen, holding up several bags of items he purchased at the Masters gift shop. "It's not money, it's memories. I just hope that flies when I get home.''

Of course it's good for business that this is the only place and the only week Masters merchandise is sold. So all day, every day, people file through the largest golf gift shop you've even seen and buy up everything from t-shirts to beach towels, from caps to cuff links.

And it's all serves the same purpose.

"This is the most beautiful place the world and I can understand why people spend the money to come here,'' said Anna Arnold of McDonough, Georgia. "It's worth it.''

"This is a once in a lifetime thing,'' added Bob Caccamo of Chicago. "So you just have to foresee and go for it.''

The same spending might not be going on outside the course.

But that has more to do with new traffic flow than cash flow, cars being diverted off of Washington Road this year cutting down on the cottage industry that had grown up there in the past.

But the merchants that did show say signs of the economic downturn haven't.

"It seems no change,'' said Scott Mauer, who has operated a tent during the Masters for his Gotta Have Sports memorabilia for the last 14 years. "I know times are tough for a lot of people. But the people I'm seeing are excited to be here. It seems like they've put away a few extra dollars to buy some pictures and enjoy themselves.''

And to do that, many Masters fans have enjoyed leaving any bad economic news outside Augusta's gates.

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