Spring is springing and we are delighted that it is Masters time, and tons of people are coming to visit the CSRA. (For you guests, that is the Central Savannah River Area). Each year the sporting world is focused on this event right here in our little section of northeast Georgia, and we welcome all who join us.
The Masters is a premier golf event unequalled in the golfing world. If you have a series badge and/or a practice ticket you are to be congratulated. The Augusta National Golf Club spares no expense or effort to make this an experience you will never forget. But when you are weary of walking, full of pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches, and maybe a drink or two, I have a suggestion:
Add Columbia County to your schedule.
We are that little county of about 130,000 people just west of Augusta and about eight miles from the tournament site. Many of you are rooming with us but probably do not know the county. If you are living in the motels along Interstate 20 at Belair Road, or staying at houses in our golf communities such as West Lake, Jones Creek, Bartram Trail or Champions Retreat, you know Columbia County. You can see that we have plenty of golf opportunities, but we also have water activities available at Clarks Hill Lake and the Savannah River, both in close proximity.
If you think those might be too physical after a day at the course, we have an excellent alternative.
During the week of Masters we have several sedentary activities at our Evans Towne Center Park, straight down Washington Road from the National:
• On Tuesday night, the annual Rock Fore! Dough celebration, which benefits the First Tee of Augusta, will take place. This year features country singer Grace Potter, rockers NeedtoBreathe and several other artists.
• On Wednesday afternoon there is family time with activities for the children and later that evening there is a special event, “Fund the Boom,” with special guest Rudy Giuliani and music by Steven Page, former lead singer of Barenaked Ladies. This is a charity event to benefit the annual Thunder Over Augusta Armed Forces Day Celebration in this same location. The Thunder event is one of the largest military appreciation events in the nation, and has one of the largest fireworks displays in the country.
• Thursday night brings county music star Chris Young, and Friday night the legendary rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd.
All music action takes place in the Lady Antebellum Pavilion. Full information for the Tuesday events can be found at www.rockforedough.com and the other events at www.columbiacountychampionshipfestival.com.
If you would prefer to get away from the crowds and spend a little time with nature, we have several great passive recreation parks to enjoy the beautiful scenery in Columbia County. Savannah Rapids Park provides incredible views of the Savannah River and Augusta Canal, and the Reed Creek Interpretive Center gives you an opportunity to enjoy walking on a boardwalk constructed through a wetland area.
A full list of parks can be found at www.columbiacountyga.gov.
The Columbia County Board of Commissioners welcomes you to the Masters and to our fine community. We are a very progressive county with a high growth rate, 3 1/2 percent per year for the past 25 years. We have an excellent school system recognized as one of the top in the state each year. Our central location adds to our desirability, and our quality of life is exceptional. We are two hours from everywhere and anywhere – the beaches, the mountains, and metro Atlanta.
We are also a very attractive retirement community. Our low tax rates and real estate prices make us a good choice for young couples who desire active lifestyles in a safe environment. Our crime rate is very low. The County Commission places a high priority on safety, public parks and recreational opportunities for young and old.
Most government functions are located in Evans, which also is the home of the largest library in the region, and has two amphitheaters, two playgrounds, a water splash pad, dog park, and walking and cycling paths.
We think you will enjoy Columbia County. Add Columbia County to your must-see list. All of us will be glad you came.
(Ron Cross is chairman of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.)