Augusta mayor predicts no patrons at Masters Tournament
Mayor Hardie Davis said a patron-less Masters Tournament is likely when the rescheduled event is held in November.
"The PGA Championship begins at Harding Park without fans, and that's likely what will probably happen in Augusta," Davis said of the tournament that started Thursday in San Francisco without fans.
Should patrons be allowed to attend, Davis said the club likely has the resources to slow the spread of COVID-19.
"Augusta National can do it better than anybody, and they have the wherewithal to test all patrons who show up at and the course and if you have a fever, they can tell you to go get in the car," the mayor said.
The golf club postponed this year's Masters Tournament events from April 9-12 to Nov. 9-15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Locally and regionally, the virus' spread has escalated rapidly since the state of Georgia allowed businesses and other public venues to reopen in June. Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered local governments not to mandate the wearing of face coverings, although many cities, including Augusta, are requiring them.
Augusta added 1,460 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, bringing the Richmond County total Wednesday to 3,921, which is just under 2% of the population.
Davis, who is not affiliated with the club, said it will look out for the safety and well-being of all but refused to say whether he wants patrons to attend.
"They're very thoughtful," he said of the Augusta National. "They're going to take those necessary precautions to ensure the health, welfare and safety of not just the competitors but also this city. My preference is to see some golf."
The club has not announced any change of plans and had no additional comment Thursday.
City officials have bemoaned the loss of sales tax revenue, hotel-motel and other tourism-related taxes from the rescheduled tournament, but so far had expected the revenue to be partially recovered in November.
The regional economic juggernaut creates thousands of jobs and thousands more area homeowners rent their homes to visiting patrons.
Revenue from a single 1% sales tax for Augusta capital projects typically peaks at around $4 million in April, outpacing December.