2004: The Masters - New practice facility coming to the National

Augusta, Ga.

The Augusta National Golf Club has been on something of a buying binge the past several years, snapping up some $28 million worth of property in and around the fabled home of the Masters.

In an exclusive interview with Golfweek, club chairman William W. (Hootie) Johnson revealed the primary reason for those acquisitions: to relocate most of the parking in the lot at thecorner of Berckmans Road and Washington

Road so that the club can build a state-of-the-art Masters practice facility there.

“Yes, we have been purchasing land outside the bamboo,” Johnson said, speaking of property off the former tree nursery that now makes up Augusta National. “Basically, we want to use it for parking, and in time we would like to move most of the parking we currently have in the lot bordered by Berckmans and Washington to some of those areas. That will allow us to build the new practice facility, perhaps within the next five years. Tom Fazio is helping design it, and it will be available only for players competing in the Masters.”

Johnson said members of Augusta National will continue to use the current practice area, which isn’t deep enough to accommodate the distances today’s touring professionals hit the ball.

Today, the land on which that new Masters facility will be constructed is accessible mostly through Gates 3 and 6. It can accommodate parking for 5,000 vehicles, and the plan calls for moving most of that off-site to facilities set up on some of the recently acquired land.

According to The Augusta Chronicle, the heavy buying of land around the club began in 1999, with limited-liability companies tied to Augusta National amassing at least 115 acres at a total cost of $28.3 million (including brokerage fees). The newspaper reported that all but 17 acres of that property surrounds the golf club and includes commercial lots fronting Washington Road, which is the busy thoroughfare running along the northern boundary of the club; undeveloped brush land behind a Publix supermarket on Washington; and residential property, most of which is west of the course.

And it appears the club is still in the real estate market. In fact, Johnson assures there will be additional purchases, declaring simply: “We are not through acquiring land.”

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