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Posted April 07, 2019 03:04 pm
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Sheriff's office watches for Masters ticket scalpers

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    (File/Staff) A pedestrian passes signs seeking tickets for Masters practice rounds across the street from Taco Bell on Washington Road in 2013. [FILE/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Every spring, the big tickets in town are always those for the Masters Tournament. The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office is making sure no laws are violated by those attempting to buy or sell them.

Capt. Scott Gay, the office’s Masters security supervisor, said Georgia law prohibits the buying or selling of tickets within 2,700 feet of a venue, which in this case is Augusta National Golf Club. According to Georgia law, tickets bought for personal use can be sold for any price “provided that such person does not sell or offer to sell such tickets within 2,700 feet of a venue.”

The boundaries extend from around Taco Bell on Washington Road to Calhoun Expressway and Surrey Center on Berckmans Road to just past the fire station on Alexander Drive. Gay said the distance is measured from the golf course, not the parking lots. He said they often deal with people who don’t follow the guidelines, but the majority of the licensed brokers know where they can and cannot go.

“We have people that will push the boundaries from time to time, so we have to deal with those folks,” Gay said. “Typically, who we have the most problems with are just people being uneducated about the state law.”

Although Augusta National prohibits the resale of Masters tickets, Gay said the sheriff’s office can only enforce state law and not the golf club’s policy.

“Typically, we try to issue warnings on the first offense,” Gay said. “If we see that is the same person, then we will charge them, but we like to issue a warning as much as possible.”

Last year, no arrests were made in connection with ticket scalping, but one warning did lead to an arrest. Michael Joseph Kovar, 31, of Minnesota, was charged with trespassing after he attempted to purchase tickets at the Augusta National gates. He was arrested after being warned not to return to the property without a badge, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

James Dizoglio, who said he has been reselling tickets at the Masters for almost 20 years, has his spot just beyond the 2,700-foot boundary on Washington Road. He said ticket demand and prices change depending on the day and weather reports.

“The scarcity of the ticket, it’s a very rare ticket. It’s really hard to find and usually the numbers are really high to get them,” Dizoglio said.

Augusta National sells tickets at $75 each for practice rounds and $115 each for daily tournament days, according to the club’s website. Tickets are sold in advance following a lottery, and no tickets are sold at the gates. It is common to see ticket resales in the hundreds of dollars for practice rounds and in the thousands for tournament days.

As of Saturday, tickets on Stubhub were being sold starting at $700 for Monday’s practice round, $1,700 for Tuesday’s and $2,829 for Wednesday’s. Tournament badges for Thursday to Sunday were being sold starting at $8,900 on Stubhub.

Dizoglio thinks the updated gate entry policy this year could affect ticket sales. . Each ticket or badge is now allowed only two gate entries per day, down from three in 2017 and 2018.

“It’s tighter this year because of the one in and out policy, so it has created a scarcity where the half-day people aren’t going to be showing up like they used to,” Dizoglio said.

Dizoglio said most of his clients are from out of town since most locals already have contacts they have developed on their own.