MASTERS WEEK

It’s the busiest time of the year for The Oaks Golf Course. See what they’re do­ing to get pre­pared.

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - SHAKEEM HOLLOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

There’s a park­ing lot full of cars at The Oaks course. Golf pro Gary Miller is parked be­hind the reg­is­ter in the pro shop at The Oaks. It’s not Masters week yet, but it’s com­ing sooner than Win­ter for Game of Thrones.

By the time you read this – hope­fully on Sun­day when it comes out – Masters week will of­fi­cially be a day away. Prac­tice rounds begin Mon­day, April 6 and that’s the be­gin­ning of the busiest week of the year at any golf course on or near I-20 – a straight shot to Au­gusta.

This will be Miller’s first year deal­ing with Masters week at The Oaks, but it’s some­thing he’s ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore while work­ing at Reynolds Plan­ta­tion which is closer to Au­gusta than The Oaks is.

“It kicks off the golf sea­son for us,” David Schultz, The Oaks owner, said. “Peo­ple have been play­ing, but when they start show­ing those Masters com­mer­cials on TV. It kicks ‘em into high gear. With our prox­im­ity to I-20 we are a stop­ping point for peo­ple that spend the day in Au­gusta and they drive back and spend the night here (in Cov­ing­ton) be­cause ho­tels are at a pre­mium in Au­gusta this time of year.”

This is a time where peo­ple from all over the world come to Ge­or­gia to take a trip to Au­gusta and see their fa­vorite golfers at one of the best cour­ses in the na­tion. Schultz says he started re­ceiv­ing calls from peo­ple at­tempt­ing to re­serve their tee times for this up­com­ing week in Novem­ber.

“A lot of th­ese peo­ple stay in ho­tels in Cov­ing­ton and Cony­ers. Our ho­tels dur­ing that time pe­riod are nor­mally at a 100 per­cent oc­cu­pancy,” Schultz said. “They’ll stay here and they’ll drive over.”

“When they walk on those grounds,” Miller said. “You see this golf course and sum­mer time it’s re­ally nice and then you get out there you walk out and there’s not a weed to be found or any­thing along those lines.”

Miller says the first-timers are go­ing to love it at the Masters and he added that TV doesn’t do the course jus­tice. This hap­pens year-af­ter-year, peo­ple are al­ways com­ing to Ge­or­gia the first full week of April for the Masters and Miller says the first timers al­ways have sto­ries to tell be­cause the course is so cap­ti­vat­ing.

Like many other cour­ses off I-20, The Oaks serves as a buf­fer course/stop­ping point for vis­i­tors, es­pe­cially those that end up stay­ing in Cov­ing­ton and/or Cony­ers.

Dur­ing Masters week busi­ness booms all over Ge­or­gia. Golf cour­ses, ho­tels, restau­rants and gas sta­tions within about a two-hour prox­im­ity to Au­gusta will make a sig­nif­i­cant amount more money dur­ing Masters week than they would a nor­mal week.

“On any given week if you were to call me on Mon­day, we’d prob­a­bly have some­where be­tween 300/400 tee times on the sheet for that week. But this week when we had our staff meet­ing on Wed­nes­day we al­ready had 400-plus signed up and ready to go. My phone dings ev­ery time we get a tee time reser­va­tion for that week (Masters week) and it’s been ding­ing all day,” Schultz said.

Schultz says a nor­mal week at The Oaks is about 300 to 400 rounds per week. The worst they’ve ever had dur­ing the Masters is about 500 to 600. How­ever, dur­ing the pres­ti­gious week, Schultz says they’ve had as many as 1,200 rounds played in a one week span. He added that they also usu­ally do two or three times as much in rev­enue.

“If we do a good job mar­ket­ing. If the weather co­op­er­ates, it’s a huge im­pact on the bot­tom line be­cause this time of year we have a lot to do to the golf course to get ready for play,”

Shakeem Holloway / The Cov­ing­ton News

(Top) The Oaks course is lo­cated at 11240 Brown Bridge Rd and is of­fer­ing an ar­ray of packages for cus­tomers dur­ing Masters week. (Above) Golf pro Gary Miller be­hind the reg­is­ter tak­ing calls from cus­tomers want­ing to reg­is­ter for tee times.

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