Why did Augusta National buy a public park? It fits the club’s strategy

Augusta national aerial view

This week, Augusta National was approved to purchase a nearby city park, on which rests a tennis court and a playground area.

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In about one month, the sports world will once again turn its gaze toward the property at 2604 Washington Road in Augusta, Ga., a property better known as Augusta National Golf Club. For many, that club enters our minds on a one-week-a-year basis, but in reality there are club operations taking place year-round that impact how it runs its major tournament. 

For example: this week’s news, that the most famous golf club in the world has purchased a city park. 

The idea of ANGC buying property is nothing new. Augusta National has slowly but surely extended its footprint, purchasing a nearby Wendy’s in 2020, a shopping center later that year and dozens of residential properties that border the club. Most of those acquisitions have taken place since 2000. But a city park in 2024? Why would a golf club buy up that land? 

Proximity, and improved access to the eastern part of its property. At least that’s what local leaders would make it seem.

Various Augusta-area outlets were the first to report that the club has purchased West Vineland Park, at 239 W. Vineland Road, from the city of Augusta. It’s a small lot — 1.05 acres total, on which sits a single, fenced-in tennis court and a tiny playground area. Importantly, it abuts a small driveway that has been used by Augusta National for years. 

The purchase was made for a reported $350,000 on a property with an assessed value of $58,300, and confirmed Wednesday by the Augusta Georgia Land Bank Authority, a public-service entity that brokered the deal. The bank specializes in “acquiring tax-delinquent and abandoned properties and returning them to productive use.”

West Vineland Park and its border with Augusta National, circa 2018.
The park’s border with Augusta National, circa 2023.

Local tax commissioner Tederell Johnson provided a bit of clarity to the local ABC affiliate, saying, “It’s my understanding the Masters has, for this particular park, is to use it as access and egress into their property.”

What that means for the park is unclear. A decade ago, this east side of the property was a bit more wooded. But as with many recent developments of building outward, the club added two buildings near that driveway entrance in the late 2010s and early 2020s. Buying up the land outside the entrance is simply just owning another link in the chair of parcels the club now owns along Vineland Road. 

Through various LLCs that are confirmed as affiliates of Augusta National, the club has purchased more than 100 properties in recent years, most of them bordering club boundaries. For example, the land acquired from Augusta Country Club in 2017 — to lengthen the 13th hole with a new teeing ground on the course’s southern tip — was acquired via five different LLCs under the name RC Eagle. The massive, global television compound on the other side of Washington Road is housed under the name “The Greens on Washington Road, LLC.”

All the parcels owned by Berckman Residential Properties, LLC, an affiliate of Augusta National.

The most prolific buyer is known as Berckman Residential Properties, LLC, which owns numerous plots both north and south of West Vineland Park. In total, Berckman Residential Properties owns, as of this month, 170 parcels in Augusta (pictured above), the large majority of which surround Augusta National’s 345-acre golf course. 

Attentive golf fans (and maybe those who have attended the Masters before) know what the club has done with some of these properties in the past. Along its western border, Augusta National has set up a massive parking enclave for tournament week, and even extended the wooded area that encompasses the outline of the 2nd tee box.

What does the club intend to do with its eastern border? The details of that remain unclear, but there is a clear impetus to own almost every piece of land that rests on the inside of Vineland Road. Only about 12 parcels (out of 34) along that border remain unowned by the club.

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