What’s new in Augusta this year off the golf course

What’s new in Augusta this year off the golf course

The Augusta National Women’s Invitational is a big “new” this year for golf fans, but off the golf courses, many other new developments await Masters Tournament patrons.

A bevy of new restaurants and visible growth tied to the arrival of the U.S. Army Cyber Command will greet annual Masters Tournament visitors this year. Some will likely notice another big change – smoking is no longer allowed in enclosed workplaces, buildings and bars.

After years of effort, health advocates succeeded last June in getting the Augusta Commission to ban smoking and vaping in most public spaces, although “outdoor places” are specifically excluded except near doors and windows.

Though many have embraced the ban, local cigar sales are feeling the impact of the new ordinance this Masters Week, said Russell Wilder, the owner of Top Shelf Cigar in Columbia County.

“I’ve been selling cigars at Hooters since it opened and I’ve been moved out of the tent,” Wilder said.

Along Washington Road, where some restaurants erect tents to expand their venues during the Masters, Wilder has long been a source of the stogies popular with visitors who sometimes lit up in the tent.

“A lot of these guys are away from their wives, and boys will be boys,” Wilder said. “For some guys, it’s the only cigar they smoke all year.”

Among numerous other changes in Augusta, the downtown landscape has been altered with the openings in July and January of the Hull-McKnight and Shaffer MacCartney buildings on Grace Hopper Lane at the Nathan Deal Campus for Innovation, which sits on the city’s waterfront and is collectively called the Georgia Cyber Center.

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