The greens of the Augusta National Golf Club are miles away on Washington Road, but that doesn't stop the color green from reaching the pockets of Columbia County business owners.
Many have reported strong expectations during Masters Week as the crush of golf patrons spend money to eat, drink and sleep.
"We see about a 15 percent increase the over the week before and after (Masters)," said Ian Brower, co-owner of the Upper Crust restaurant on Towne Center Drive.
He said the restaurant hires extra staff and increases food orders to prepare for the week.
Because Columbia County pupils are on vacation this week, many families and regular customers are gone, Brower said, but the tables are filled with new, visiting diners.
Many business owners in the area's hospitality industry said they are not expecting a banner year like the one seen several years ago, when Tigermania and corporate spending flowed abundantly.
"We actually are doing about the same as last year, but last year was also a very down year," said Diane Starr, owner of Corporate Quarters, a house-rental service in Martinez, that markets more than 1,000 houses for the week. "I still consider this year a slow year. 2001 was my biggest year."
For hotel rooms, it seems like reservations during practice round days are taking longer to fill up in advance, said Mabry Clements, manager at the Wingate Inn on Belair Road near Interstate 20.
But by the start of Masters Week, the rooms are usually gone, Clements said, adding that the hotel's rooms during tournament days already have been fully booked.
"Last year, it was a little bumpy, but we still filled up," she said.
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