SBJ/April 11-17, 2011/Facilities

Double Eagle Club making a comeback

The Double Eagle Club, the leading hospitality site at the Masters since 1992, saw its revenue increase 65 percent this year.

While the daily guest count surpassed the 200 mark last week, it still hasn’t returned to the pre-recession levels of 2008, when nearly 300 people a day were passing through the club.

But the increase in guests this year marks a significant comeback for Masters hospitality, which suffered from corporate cutbacks in 2009 and ’10. About 90 percent of the hospitality crowd at the Double Eagle Club is corporate business and about 1,500 guests attended last week.

“In the last two years, companies were laying off employees, so it just looked bad to send a bunch of clients to the Masters,” said Chuck Johnsen, a senior vice president at Chicago-based Intersport, the agency that runs the Double Eagle Club. “But it looks like the belt-tightening is done and those companies are saying that it’s time to get back to growing our business.”

Intersport, which celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Double Eagle Club last week, began the hospitality business really out of necessity. As a production company that worked closely with CBS on golf projects, Intersport took guests to the Masters, where executives were unimpressed with the offerings of pimento cheese sandwiches.

So the agency bought an old arcade building directly across Washington Road from the entrance to Augusta National. The 5,000 square-foot space was retrofitted to serve as a home for hospitality and another 3,000 square feet have been added.

Intersport’s hospitality packages go for $105,000 for eight people and include housing in upscale homes, transportation, tickets to the tournament, and full access to the Double Eagle Club.

Inside, the club serves breakfast each day with an omelet station and guests typically eat there before walking across the street to Augusta National. They return for lunch, where there’s a carving station and traditional Southern favorites like fried chicken. Dinner often includes some kind of change-up, like wild game, and the guests retire to the expansive deck for cocktails.

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