AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’ s Wednesday morning at ten, a dozen miles south of the most unique golf club on the planet, and lined up such as giant aluminum sardines is the maximum concentration of private jets from one airport anywhere in the world. But there’ s a problem: A ground cease was just issued for Augusta Regional Airport. No, the Chief executive isn’ t coming to town, neither are the earlier predicted thunderstorms. Within air traffic control parlance, it’ s due to “ saturation. ” It’ s simply too crowded for every more planes to land or even take off.
It’ s Masters Week, the way the partner does it— the 1 percent from the 1 percenters.
Fifty-one weeks a year, depending on air travel schedules, a plane will take away or land approximately every half an hour, sometimes longer, at little Rose bush Field, where a couple of country highways meet amid the pines as well as its two runways. For much of recently, it’ s every five, along with one of the runways shut down and changed into a parking lot, something the particular airport started doing a couple of years back to make room. On the eve of the year’ s tournament, some two hundred jets are already parked and with the course of the week more than one, 500 in all will come through the entrance. Other airports— nearby Daniel Industry, which is closer to the course yet smaller, and Aiken (S. Chemical. ) Municipal Airport— can handle any kind of overflow.
The commercial airline visitors is up, too, of course , with extra direct flights from Washington, G. C., Dallas-Fort Worth, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Canada added only for this week. A representative from Delta mentioned they’ re up about seventy percent in seats versus an ordinary period and about 7 percent more than a year ago (call it the Padraig harrington Effect). The airline also additional extra flights from its hub within Atlanta as well as bigger planes.
“ We have Extremely Bowl traffic for eight, 9 days, ” says Lauren Jones, the airport’ s communications plus customer service manager. “ This is our own busiest time. ”
In all, the airport might find about 20, 000 passengers arrive through the doors during the week, a lot of whom pay between $5, 1000 to $25, 000 an hour in order to fly private.
Of course , it wasn’ t usually that way.
1 bigwig from Texas who 1st attended the Masters in the mid-1980s remembers a different scene as their father-in-law’ s King Air aircraft touched down the year Ben Crenshaw would go on to win the particular tournament in 1984.
“ There weren’ big t 10 of them, ” said the particular 57-year-old exec, who grew up across the game and married into a household that had yearly badges stretching out back decades. “ It’ ersus interesting how the crowds have transformed. It’ s become much more of the place to be. For those who can afford this, it’ s become a thing, even though you’ re not a golfer. It’ s a bucket list product vs . a golfer’ s product. ”
Quite simply, as the tournament has grown— current accouterments include the opening of the uber-lavish Berckmans Place in 2013, and a high-class and sprawling new merchandise building that’ s double the size of the prior one this year— so too offers Augusta National as a place to be observed, rather than just a place for wealthy golf nuts. The egg greens and pimento-cheese sandwiches still price $1. 50, but some traditions develop.
“ It’ s more corporate now, ” says another longtime attendee, who else ironically makes the yearly journey in the company’ s jet. “ It’ s still the best run competition, but it’ s not the same. ”
That, naturally , goes for players, too.
When Arnold Palmer first joined the tour within 1955, he and then-wife Winnie traversed the country in a 19-foot-long truck. It wasn’ t long before he or she understandably grew tired of that way of travel and began taking traveling lessons. After winning the 1958 Masters, he leased a Cessna 175 and hired a part-time co-pilot to fly with your pet. Three years later, he purchased their first plane, an Aero Leader 500, and began flying frequently, including to Augusta National.
By the late 1990s and with money exploding (again, the particular Tiger Effect), it seemed every single player had followed suit in order to came to private air travel with some— Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, among a couple of others— also owning their own aircraft, causing Palmer to once laugh that he bought his plane right after winning a second Masters and gamers nowadays buy one after finishing 2nd.
“ Men are anxious to get here, ” said Andy Dawson, a former realtor and now senior vice president associated with WheelsUp’ s golf divison, one of the numerous private jet companies that is shuttling players and others to and from Augusta. “ The convenience factor makes sense for further players than not. It’ h the Masters, it’ s a significant, it’ s a difficult spot to access. ”
Exactly the same holds true for the non-playing clientele, every trying to get to a place that’ h more than a two-hour drive east through Atlanta.
“ It’ s an event more than every other major, ” Dawson said. “ The same people come every year, as well. ”
Above the titans of business, that will list of regulars includes everyone through ex-Presidents, to Saudi royalty, to some certain 14-time major winner plus owner of four green overcoats. According to multiple sources who were existing for Woods’ arrivals at the airport terminal earlier in his career, the younger golfer used to ask the initial to tell the crew on the ground to show their backs and not look at your pet as he de-planed.
Most passengers aren’ t because demanding. Still, all that extra visitors requires extra bodies, which is why the particular airport, much the way Augusta Nationwide has expanded to adjust to the modern energy game, brings on a couple 100 extra people, everyone from reasons crew to air traffic controllers, to help the operation move efficiently.
“ It’ s organized, it’ s expert and it’ s a group effort from all levels, ” says director of operations Bernard Weegar, who began his profession at the airport after the 1997 Experts. “ I was going to say arranged chaos but was trying to think of work out put it. ”
It’ s also not just the quantity of people that has increased.
With the longer of its two strip stretching 8, 001 feet, the particular airport can oblige. That additional foot is important, by the way, because it indicates the runway can accommodate larger-bodied planes, such as the Boeing Business Aircraft and 747-400.
“ As the years have eliminated by, everybody steps up to the larger airplane, ” Weegar said. “ It’ s not just the plane getting bigger but more individuals want to come to Augusta Regional Airport terminal. ”
Specifically this week.