Augusta Overpays For More Land, New Fifth Hole Closer To Reality?

Thanks to Scott Michaux for tweeting his colleague Susan McCord's story on Augusta National (under the guise of Berckman Residential Properties) paying top dollar for more neighboring real estate in a bid to finally lengthen the fifth hole add more tournament parking.

But according to property records, the two tracts sold in July, when Berckman Residential Properties purchased a 1-acre tract at 353 Heath Drive for $1 million from William Garner and a 0.43-acre parcel at 357 Berckmans Road for $600,000 from Kathryn Murphy.

It is not the first purchase Berckman Residential Properties has made from Garner. The broker paid $2.85 million for an adjoining 2.85-acre lot last year.

The acquisitions reflect a dramatic increase in purchase price since heavy buying began in the 1990s.

In 1999, the average price being paid for an acre was $222,000. By 2003, brokers were paying an average of $450,000 an acre. Today, the average price is above $1 million an acre.

And the latest two purchases are not the last. On Sept. 20, Berckman Residential Properties paid owner Marlene Spears $1 million for 1.265 acres at 409 and 415 Berckmans Road. Near the southern Berckmans boundary of the National, the tracts are the first south of Heath Drive’s southern leg known to be purchased for Masters purposes.

And in the buried lede department:

The area, which is separated from the Augusta National by Berckmans Road and becomes heavily congested during the tournament, also continues to be considered for a major transportation overhaul, with the realignment of Berckmans Road with Alexander Drive on the list of projects to go before voters on a 2012 regional transportation sales tax referendum.

A road realignment would be necessary to lengthen the fifth hole, should of course the club feel that it's a worthwhile expense instead of asking their friends at the USGA to regulate equipment.