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More than Golf!

When I was a little kid I hated being cooped inside the house. I always wanted to be outside playing, and the same applies today. Luckily I live in Augusta, Ga. where outdoor recreation is just around the river bend…literally!

In the south, we are fortunate enough to have warmer temperatures during most of the year, which means we get to spend a lot of time outside! Here are some of the outdoor recreational opportunities Augusta offers. Be prepared to be surprised, and many places are free!



The Augusta Canal and Towpath

Built in 1845 to harness the water of the Savannah River and produce hydroelectricity to power mills, the Augusta Canal is still in use today. Its smooth waters make it an excellent place for a canoe or kayak adventure. Don’t have a kayak or canoe? There are retailers close by! And its 8.5 miles long towpath is ideal for walking or riding bikes. Pets are welcome.

J. Strom Thurmond LakeIt’s the largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River. There are several parks and swimming beaches, hiking trails and camping areas. You can also rent boats and jet skis for the day. It is also home to the International Disc Golf Hall of Fame.

Lake Olmstead/Julian Smith ParkIt’s a lake front park which makes it perfect for boating, fishing and picnics. The Augusta GreenJackets, Augusta’s minor league baseball team play at Lake Olmstead Stadium during the season (April through September). Try your hand at one of several disc golf courses. One is located in the park. Disc golf is similar to ball golf, but you use discs/Frisbees and try to throw them into a basket to make par. Pretty simple concept. Fun and free if you own discs!

Phinizy Swamp Nature ParkLocated on 1100 acres and just minutes from downtown Augusta, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park offers visitors the chance to see blue heron, red-shouldered hawk, otter, alligator and the elusive bobcat in their natural settings. Participate in guided tours or venture out on your own. This park is also free.

Savannah River and Augusta Riverwalk

Personal  watercraft vehicles are available to rent. Also a great place for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. The Augusta Riverwalk runs parallel to the Savannah River. Its two-tiered paved trail runs for three blocks downtown. It features a children’s playground, picnic tables and various gardens.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Masters Tournament

At the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau, we get a lot of calls about the Augusta National Golf Club’s Masters Tournament. Below are just a few of the more regular questions. Please do not hesitate to call us with other questions about your visit to Augusta at 800-726-0243 or visit our website.

Question: I did not get tickets for the Masters 2011, is it too late to apply for the lottery?
Answer: Yes, it is too late. You will need to reapply. Applications are accepted starting in May the year before and usually due by the end of July. 

Question: I cannot do a lot of walking; can a wheelchair be rented at the tournament?
Answer: Wheelchairs are allowed on the course, but the Augusta National Golf Club does not rent out wheelchairs. In previous years you could rent them from DuraMed 706.737.0500.

Question: I am not planning to rent a car; do hotels in the area provide shuttle service?
Answer: Yes, many hotels provide shuttle service from hotel to golf course and back, at a nominal cost or not at all.

Question:
Where can I park once I arrive to the golf course? How early do I need to be there?
Answer: The Augusta National Golf Club has allocated a very large area of free parking spaces during the Masters Tournament. Gates normally open at 8am daily during the tournament.

Question:
I received a notification letter that I won tickets for the practice round so I will be coming to Augusta in April, where can I stay?
Answer: You can access the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau website to get a listing of hotels in the area, or we can mail you a visitor’s guide. Websites for research: http://www.augustaga.org/

Question: I noticed that my check has been cashed, when do I receive my tickets?
Answer: Typically tickets begin to be mailed out starting mid-January. If you have questions or concerns about your tickets contact the Augusta National Golf Club directly at 706.667.6000 and ask for Tournament Information. 

Question: Is the Golf Course within walking distance of the hotels on Washington Road?
Answer: No, it is not. The closest hotel is about a mile from the front gate. 

Question: What is the dress code?
Answer: Appropriate clothes and shoes should be worn at all time. You will mainly see golf casual on the course. Layers are also recommended since mornings are still a little cool. 

Question: I would like to play some golf while I am in Augusta, can you recommend some golf courses?
Answer: Augusta has many great golf courses to play. However, during the week of Masters Tee times should be made well in advance. 

Question: It is March and I have not received my tickets yet?
Answer: Perhaps you provided a forwarding address; the Augusta National does not forward tickets to addresses not matching the application. If that is the case, then most probably the Club has your tickets, otherwise for any other reason you will need to contact them directly 706.667.6000. 

Question: Can I bring an infant with me to the Practice Round?
Answer: All attendees must have a badge.

April in Augusta – Masters Time

I know it is March and maybe cold where you are, but in Augusta spring is coming and so is the excitement about the Masters Golf Tournament. I moved to Augusta in 1995 and have begged, borrowed and almost stolen to make it to the Augusta National Golf Course every spring. The joy of this tournament never gets old. So I thought I would share a few of my favorite parts.

Free Parking – from the very beginning it is awesome. Tell me what other major sporting event offers free parking!!!!!! From wherever you are coming, follow the golf traffic signs. Don’t try to get sneaky. The signs truly send you the quickest way to free parking. And remember to leave the cell phone in the car – it is okay. It will actually feel quit liberating.

Then you walk in Gate 6A and expect to be Wowed! If you have not been in awhile this is all new. They have definitely added the Disney effect – a grand entrance. Don’t rush. Take in all in. Then hand them your ticket. Remember not to permanently attach the pass to your body once you get out of the car. The security guards will need to scan it at the entrance. Then after that you can permanently attach it – just make sure they can see it. They will ask throughout the day if they cannot see it.

You will walk in alongside the driving range. This is also new as of last year. For me, it seems a little dangerous. But apparently these guys do not have as many bad shots as I think. Another little insider info – on your left is a small cabin. This is where ESPN and a few other media folks broadcast from during the week. So they actually have the back drop of the driving range. I enjoy taking time at the driving range. There are nice bleachers to sit and watch the action and soak up some sun. Last year, when Tiger Woods made his big entrance back to golf it was here in Augusta. I spent some quality time with him at the driving range. You can see the media cabin in the background as well.

It really is a great time in Augusta at the Masters Tournament. But I could write all day. So I think I will save dirt cheap fabulous food, fantastic scenery and the time I was approached by a security guard for another edition of the Visit Augusta Blog. However, if you are coming this year and have questions – do not hesitate to call 800-726-0243.

Par 3 Wednesday at The Masters

I’ve always felt like the Wednesday of Masters, and along with it the Par 3 Tournament, was kind of a magical day.  Sure, the players are gearing up for the biggest tournament of the year, but just the day before the competition begins they are relaxed and jovial and seem to be enjoying their time with each other and the patrons.

If you’ve never been to the Par 3 Tournament, or seen it on TV, it is a unique experience.  While not a required part of the week, many golfers take the opportunity to playfully compete in a 9-hole tournament on another part of the Augusta National’s property.  Tradition allows for the players to have a friend or family member caddy for them, and many opt to have their children carry their clubs for the day and help with the tough shots.  Ages of the caddies range from three years old on up to teenagers, and there’s nothing cuter than to watch one of the little ones line up to make Dad’s putt.  (Don’t worry about child labor, the bags are significantly lighter since fewer clubs are needed, and many of the golfers wind up carrying their own bag.)

Another great thing about Par 3 Wednesday is that many past champions who are no longer on the tour come back to play.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to see some of the greats back in action.  This year was particularly special since Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were grouped to play together.  The applause and ovations as the three were coming up to the 9th Green was unbelievable.  And watching Arnie sink that long putt was amazing.  That was the perfect end to a fantastic day on the course.

100 Years of the Partridge Inn in Augusta

One of the most unique places to stay in Augusta is the Partridge Inn. Originally built as a private residence and eventually renovated to be the hotel that it is today, the Partridge Inn displays true Southern Hospitality.  Their Sunday brunch is raved about nearly as much as their attention to detail and feeling of ‘home away from home’ that they offer each and every guest.

Last week, we had the opportunity to take part in the 100 Year Celebration Luncheon of the Partridge Inn. It is amazing to think that this Augusta landmark has been around an entire century.  Everyone at our table was saying how much they wished the walls could talk, since there’s no telling what they have seen in 100 years including many Masters weeks and numerous weddings and celebrations.

Lunch was delicious! We enjoyed their famous fried chicken along with some sweet tea and bread pudding for dessert, which is always a treat. As a part of the celebration, various organizations in Augusta were invited to bring an item for the Partridge Inn time capsule to be opened after the next hundred years.  Each person who had something to put in the box explained what they were putting into the time capsule  was and told everyone their favorite Partridge Inn memory.  There were all sorts of items put into the box: a declaration from the Mayor, vintage photographs from the earlier days of the hotel, and  a copy of the April issue of Augusta Magazine, which always features the Masters Tournament.  The CVB decided to place a visitor guide and a few  other local brochures in the box.  Maybe in another 100 years the folks who open the box will be curious to see what tourists were interested in during 2010!

The 100 Year Celebration will be ongoing throughout all of 2010 at  the hotel. If you have never stayed at the Partridge Inn you are missing out.  Even if you are a local and aren’t looking for somewhere to spend the night, you should stop by for lunch or Jazz Night sometime-you won’t regret it!

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