If you are a visitor to our community this week, particularly if you are here for the first time, there are a few things you ought to know:
First, we do have cars that are colors other than yellow - just not at this time of year. We really do know how to pronounce "Martinez"; we just choose not to. And, if the weather makes you uncomfortable, be patient; it'll change.
The Masters Tournament, indisputably the planet's finest golf tournament, theoretically takes place only within the lush confines of the Augusta National Golf Club.
But because of the enormous economic impact, the tournament is much bigger than one golf course. Columbia County is especially poised to welcome annual guests, and that hospitality grows each year.
How? From strictly a business standpoint, Columbia County enterprises are well-suited to accommodate a big influx of guests. Literally. Not so long ago, the county had only one small hotel to offer visitors; most Masters guests in the county stayed in rented private homes (especially in West Lake, which seems to turn into a giant resort this week).
Private homes still provide a significant amount of lodging, but the county now boasts a dozen hotels, including the county's newest, full-service Holiday Inn.
Add to that mix the tremendous recent growth in restaurants - and not just chains, but unique local flavors (including a sudden flourish of bakeries, undoubtedly necessitated by the preceding growth in coffee shops!).
Then throw in all the new retailers selling everything from sporting goods to building supplies, and the businesses that serve Columbia County residents every day are well-suited to accommodate extra guests.
But an old saying is that you can't build a church for Easter Sunday. For Columbia County, the good news is that this commercial growth has been accompanied by a steady increase in tourism activities.
Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Beda Johnson, who is a guest herself with a column today (below), does an incredible job packaging all that Columbia County has to offer and promoting it to recreational visitors.
The result, with help from other Columbia County agencies, has been the growth of the county as a destination for big-league fishing tournaments at Clarkes Hill Lake that bring in hundreds of competitors. A couple of bow-and-arrow target-shooting events this year will also draw huge numbers, and the highly anticipated opening of the world headquarters of the Professional Disc Golf Association at Wildwood Park could one day create tremendous impact for the county.
As Johnson points out, yes, there are traffic jams to contend with. And restaurants will be crowded. But just as patience will help with our sometimes quirky weather, a little dose of indulgence will help everyone get through a busy, exciting week.
Welcome to Augusta. And welcome, especially, to Columbia County.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.