A Hotter Ticket Than A Master's Badge?
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/25/13
One major change to Augusta National Golf Club debuted this year, although it was overshadowed by Adam Scott's overtime victory, "Drop-Gate," and Tianlang Guan's, um, (cough) deliberate pace around the course. But that change didn't happen on the course itself.

Following a soft opening last year, Berckmans Place "debuted" — for those fortunate enough to have a pass to Berckmans Place, at least. Named after the family that owned the tree nursery over which Augusta National Golf Club was built, the club developed and had built this 90,000 square-foot facility to accommodate their corporate and business guests, as well as club members during the Masters Tournament. It includes three restaurants:
  1. Ike's, named after Augusta National member and 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower

  2. Calamity Jane's, named after the famous putter used by Augusta National co-founder Bobby Jones, and

  3. Mackenzie's, a Scottish-themed restaurant named after Augusta National's legendary architect, Dr. Alister Mackenzie
A merchandise shop sells golf and clothing items that are not available at the regular patron shops out on the course. Downscaled replicas of the greens at 7, 14, and 16 are also available to badge-holders to use, with clubs, balls, and caddies available.

Jay Caldwell of Conway, Georgia described Berckmans Place to the Augusta Chronicle:
"It looked like Disney World or Las Vegas. The interior was immaculate. It seemed like you were in a different country. There were rock walls and rock floors. It was incredible."
The club purchased a tract of homes located near club property and razed them in order to create more parking space, as well as accommodate Berckmans Place. The expansion isn't completely without controversy; part of the plans include widening Berckmans Road, which isn't sitting well with at least two homeowners, according to the Chronicle. But since The Masters Tournament isn't getting any smaller or less popular, City of Augusta officials and traffic engineers might have little choice.

On a slightly unrelated note, this writer wishes he had $6,000 for a Berckmans Place badge next April.

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